Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Hospital A&E sends patients away during period of 'extreme pressure' as staff struggle to cope with large numbers of patients

The Ulster Hospital was forced to divert ambulances away from its A&E department during a period of "extreme pressure" brought about by a large number of patients on Tuesday morning.

The divert to the Royal Victoria Hospital was issued to the Ambulance Service at 9.30am and lifted at 1.30pm.

It followed after a large number of people attended the hospital on Monday.

A South Eastern Trust spokeswoman said the department was still experiencing high levels of pressure on Tuesday afternoon but able to accept admittances from ambulances.

It has cancelled clinics in order to free up staff.

She added: "Due to an unprecedented number of people attending the emergency department at the Ulster Hospital yesterday, the department remains under extreme pressure.

"We have taken steps to create additional capacity in the hospital to ensure that patients will be admitted as quickly as possible. 

"We have cancelled some outpatient clinics to make additional doctors and nurses available, and we have also increased diagnostic services to speed up the patient journey. 

"We acknowledge the support of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service in arranging an ambulance divert for several hours today, and also our staff who continue to deliver excellent care in the face of significant pressure.

"We would also urge the public to consider other options of care while the Ulster Hospital emergency department remains so busy."

Earlier the trust said it was forced to put in place a divert as the department was "particularly busy".

The divert protocol, the trust explained "is a long standing arrangement between the Ambulance Service and hospitals, when one emergency department is experiencing significant pressures".

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