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179 operations postponed due to casualty units crisis

By Victoria O'Hara

Nearly 180 operations were postponed across Northern Ireland because of a spike in the workload in emergency departments, it has been confirmed.

Health staff are still battling to reduce the pressures facing our A&E departments with GPs expressing concern about the impact the crisis is having on patients.

In the latest figures released by the Health and Social Care Board, it confirmed 179 non-urgent surgeries were postponed between January 1 and January 9.

However, it added the number of operations affected may change.

It also said there were no patients waiting longer than 12 hours in any emergency department at 9am yesterday.

In a statement it said a "concerted effort" continues right across Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland to alleviate pressures in emergency departments and ensure patients are not experiencing undue delays.

It added that trusts were reviewing the position daily to minimise the impact on patients.

Michael Bloomfield, director of performance management and corporate services with the Health and Social Care Board, said: "The board continues to work closely with all five health and social care trusts to monitor the situation closely and will do so over the coming days. The number of postponed procedures is regrettable for those affected and we apologise for this.

"Trusts will do all they can to ensure that those procedures postponed are rescheduled as soon as possible and those affected kept informed."

Dr John O'Kelly, chair of the Royal College of GPs in Northern Ireland, said: "GPs are highly concerned with the reported pressures on A&Es and hospitals and the worrying impact this has on patients. Hospital pressures will not be fixed by stopgap funding each time there is a crisis in A&E.

"A sticking plaster approach will only lead to 'groundhog day' next winter. Radical solutions, including long term investment in general practice, are needed."

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