Ambulances turned away as A&E unit is swamped
Ambulances were diverted away from the emergency department at Craigavon Area Hospital last night.
In a sign of further strain at the hospital, the accident and emergency department was on full 999 divert to Antrim Area Hospital.
The hospital reached full capacity by 7.30pm, forcing patients from the Craigavon area to be transferred to Antrim.
A sign on the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service emergency bulletin board stated: "Please be aware Craigavon ED is on full 999 divert.
"Patients from the Craigavon catchment area should be taken to Antrim Area Hospital unless immediate resuscitation is required."
A spokeswoman for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust (SHSCT) said: "This is something we routinely do when the system comes under pressure. We encourage people to only use the emergency department if it's an emergency."
She added: "Emergency departments are often busy on a Monday night."
Carla Lockhart, DUP MLA for Upper Bann, said she had been liaising with senior hospital officials over the incident.
"I have been told by one of the SHSCT board members that the emergency department is extremely busy," she said.
"I would advise people to only go to the emergency department if it's an emergency.
"However, we have got to get back into government and deal with these serious bread and butter issues.
"We are dealing with people's health and wellbeing.
"I would encourage all political parties to get round the table and focus on the issues that really matter."
It comes days after Newry's Daisy Hill Hospital warned that it could be forced to temporarily shut its emergency department because of staff shortages.
The trust's board was warned about staffing challenges at a recent public meeting.