NI A&Es fail to meet government targets

Published Thursday, 24 July 2014
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The Department of Health's latest report shows that every one of Northern Ireland's major emergency departments failed to treat 95% of patients in April, May and June this year within the four hour waiting target set by government.

The type one facilities - which can handle the most serious of cases - also failed to achieve the object of having no patients waiting longer than 12 hours.

Of the more than 150,000 admittances during the period in all the major hospitals, 737 patients waited longer than 12 hours.

The report details that 65% of patients who faced over a 12-hour wait were attending the Royal Victoria Hospital.

The report notes that compared to April last year the performance of the Royal Victoria Hospital "declined markedly" according to the report from one to 190 patients waiting over 12 hours in April this year.

The worst performing facilities were at Antrim Area Hospital and the Royal in Belfast.

The South West Acute Hospital and the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children had the best performing departments, consistently achieving over 85% during the three months.

Following a major incident in the Royal in January this year, when a backlog of patients sparked scenes similar to a war zone according to staff, Health Minister Edwin Poots ordered a major review of emergency care.

The Belfast Trust also drafted in more staff to cope with demand to avoid a repeat of the incident.

We know that our emergency department waiting times are far too long.

Belfast Trust

A spokeswoman for the Belfast Health Trust said: "In June alone, the Royal Victoria Hospital emergency department had 711 more attendances, 312 more ambulance arrivals and 91 more emergency admissions than during the same month last year.

"We used to see a big improvement in performance in the summer months, but pressures on our regional trauma centre have become a year round phenomenon.

"Not only are we seeing bigger numbers, but those needing admission are more ill and more complex than before, which can mean longer hospital stays, which in turn means fewer hospital beds for new patients.

"We are actively engaging with our senior medical and nursing staff to find better and more effective ways of improving the experience of our patients."

It is unacceptable that patients should have to wait for excessive periods in our emergency departments.

Edwin Poots

Health Minister Edwin Poots said he was "disappointed" at the performance of the Royal's emergency department.

He said: "In my statement to the Assembly on 1 July 2014 I made clear my determination to bring about improvement in waiting times and announced the establishment of a regional task group chaired by my Department's Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Officer to oversee the implementation of the RQIA's recommendations for improving unscheduled care across the HSC including the RVH.

"I want to see results and have set the clear aim for the task group of eliminating all avoidable 12-hour waiting time breaches from this winter onwards and, over the next 18 months, making significant progress towards achieving the four hours waiting time standard.

"However, I expect the Belfast Trust to be taking action now to improve its performance working with the Health and Social Care Board to deliver improvement well before we reach the winter months," the DUP minister said.

© UTV News
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13 Comments
Michael in Templepatrick wrote (89 days ago):
Nurses here are far too overworked for all the thanks and financial benefits they get. Poots resign now!
Under Pressure in Ballymena wrote (90 days ago):
I work in Antrim Area Hospital. All N.Irish NHS nusing staff will agree....the crisis isn't in A&E... It's in the Wards ! What you see in A&E is merely a backlog. We don't have enough staff , beds and Doctors on duty for discharging patients. Edwin Poots really hasn't a clue what is going on in the ground. Just as the Queen thinks the world smells of fresh paint. ..... .
Lorna in Belfast wrote (91 days ago):
ARE ANY OF US SURPRISED? My grandmother fell outside the city hospital last summer, busted her lip and ended up with a blood clot, had to take her to the RVH where she waited 6hrs to be seen and by that time developed a blood clot, was sent home to have nurses call out, they never called for 11 days and her leg went black, she ended up back in the RVH for 2weeks for draining, was sent home for 2weeks and then got an operation to remove the clot and had to stay in for 2weeks. thankfully shes ok but honestly, would you want to go through all of that at 83? what would you do with your granny Mr. Poots? would you send her to our hospitals?
Briege in Belfast wrote (91 days ago):
The rvh is a joke
Bob in Belfast wrote (92 days ago):
What about the fact that on at least two occasions this year staffing levels at RVH A&E were at unsafe levels (by the Royal College of Nursing standards) - and that was only the two days I asked for information from the Belfast Trust. The levels of RN at times on those two days were running less than half the legal minimum hospitals must abide by in California. Royal College of Nursing research suggests increased risk of death when their maximum recommendation of RN to patients ratio is exceeded.
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