Hundreds wait over 24 hours in A&E

Published Monday, 02 December 2013
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Health Minister Edwin Poots says patients at accident and emergency departments should be seen within four hours - but UTV has learned that hundreds of people have been waiting longer than 24 hours to be treated.

The statistics, based on research by the Save The Mid health campaigning group and by UTV, reveal that overall almost 600 people waited more than 24 hours in A&E rooms across Northern Ireland during the first eight months of 2013.

The ministerial target is to have 95% of patients treated in A&E within four hours - but in some cases patients are waiting six times that.

Six of the region's departments had two or fewer patients waiting more than 24 hours between January and August this year. They were Daisy Hill, the South West, Craigavon, Altnagelvin, the Mater and the Royal Victoria Hospital Children's Hospital.

One of them, the Southern Trust based at Craigavon Hospital, apologised to the "small number of patients who had to wait longer than normal in our Emergency Departments."

But the picture is very different when you look at the remaining five A&E departments - Downe, Lagan Valley, the Causeway, Antrim and the Ulster hospital in Dundonald - where numerous patients are waiting more than 24 hours.

The Ulster is the worst offender with 240 people, around 40% of its total patients, kept more than 24 hours in the waiting rooms.

In a statement, the hospital said they are under increased pressure because of changes to the health system recently and pointed out that the number 24-hour or more waits has gone down in recent months.

Meanwhile the Northern Trust said waiting times at both the Antrim and Causeway "have improved significantly as the Northern Trust implements its Improvement Plan."

Edwin Poots told UTV the figures aren't acceptable but must be taken in context.

He said that the figures "represent a tiny percentage of the number who pass through emergency departments" and added that "four out of five patients were seen and treated or admitted within four hours in September."

There are now concerns that, coming into winter and with the demands that puts on A&E departments, more people will have to wait very long times to be seen in hospitals.

Maeve Hully from the Patient and Client Council said: "I think it's not acceptable that people should wait this long in emergency departments and I think people are right to be worried and frustrated about these figures. It's really important that the Trusts do something about them."

© UTV News
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16 Comments
Paul Brown in Ardglass wrote (121 days ago):
The Downe A&E is to became 9-6 from the ? 27 Dec 2013 which is an absolute outcry when patients our waiting over 24hours for medical attendion. This further reduction in opening hours will put many vunerable people at risk. With alot of people suffering at home until the opening time at present which is 8am, especially in the elderly age group, not wanting to leave the local area. this will also put the local NIAS to more stretch with the piloting of Primary PCI for heart attacks. This will put alot of peoples lives at risk and make poeple very isolated, the south down region road infrastructure is not the best with no straight road to the UHD, not taken into account traffic or waiting time once your at the Ulster. I would challenge the health minister and the director or SE trust to lie on a stretcher in the back of an ambulance, ie from newcastle/ castlewellan/ strangford/ardglass/clough
John in Belfast wrote (133 days ago):
I was complaing because i had to wait 2 hours in a Dublin hospital.
Michael . Belfast in Belfast wrote (135 days ago):
The MLA'S and Assembly have too much power and should not be allowed control of the annual " Block Grant " we receive from Britain. They have gifted £ 110 million of our money to private developers to build new sports / concert stadiums. Appears to be a case of the rich get richer and the poor get poorer ( and have to put up with diminishing hospital and community services.) while taxpayers money is given away to the fat cats . Next time they talk about more cutbacks in essential services, remind them of the £ 110 million they frittered away.
Not fooled in Belfast wrote (135 days ago):
And apparently according to Mr Poots at his party conference - since the DUP came to power waiting times in A&E were a thing of the past!!
al in down wrote (135 days ago):
my father attended Ulster A&E with severe breathin probs COPD they were gonna to send him home i insisted he stayed they took oxygen mask off his face and handed him a drip bag whilst he was transport to a Community Hospital. Consultant was rude. HE DIED 12 HOURS LATER. !!!!!
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