MLA challenges Edwin Poots over Altnagelvin waiting times
SDLP MLA Colum Eastwood has challenged Health Minister Edwin Poots to ensure accident and emergency waiting time targets can be met at Altnagelvin Hospital.
Mr Eastwood was speaking after alarming statistics revealed that waiting time targets for 95% of patients being treated, discharged or admitted within four hours of attending are not being met at the Londonderry hospital.
Mr Eastwood said: “I am calling on Health Minister Edwin Poots to provide the investment needed to ensure A&E targets can be met at Altnagelvin. Staff continue to strive to provide the highest standards of care in the face of ongoing cutbacks which the Western Trust is being forced to impose as it attempts to reduce spending by £42.7m in the three-year period to 2015.
“The minister must ensure that spending cuts do not further impact on front line services in Derry.
“The focus on patient care cannot be allowed to falter as a result of under-investment.”
The latest statistics from the Department of Health reveal that in June, 81.7% of those who attended were dealt with in a four-hour time frame, while in May the figure was 69.8%, and in April it was 72.9%.
Unlike Belfast's Royal Victoria Hospital, where 190 people waited more than 12 hours last month, no patients waited more than 12 hours to be cleared at Altnagelvin during the three-month period statistics were measured.
A total of 734 people waited longer than 12 hours in other emergency departments across Northern Ireland in the same period.
These figures have been put down to growing patient numbers with more complex illnesses and injuries.
Mr Eastwood reiterated the point that hospital staff needed proper support and resources in order to carry out their duties effectively.
“It is thanks to the hard work and dedication of staff in Derry that Altnagelvin's Accident and Emergency Department has performed better than most other facilities in the north in terms of patient waiting times.
“However, these dedicated medical professionals deserve to be afforded the resources required to allow them to meet the targets set and ensure the highest levels of patient care are delivered to all,” he added.
No one from the Department of Health was available for comment.