Belfast Telegraph

Patients spending more than 12 hours in Northern Ireland A&E's rises by a third

The amount of people spending more than 12 hours for treatment in accident and emergency departments in Northern Ireland has increased by a third, newly published figures have revealed.

Some 6,102 patients waited more than 12 hours in the three months from October to December 2019, compared to 4,572 during the same period last year, an increase of 33%.

Statistics from the Department of Health show that the amount of people attending A&E in the province also increased by 2.3% last month when compared to the same month in 2017.

This was 1,515 more than in the same month last year.

More than six in ten (62.2%) of patients treated at Type 1 emergency departments during December were treated and discharged, or admitted within four hours of their arrival. This compares to 63% of patients in December 2017.

The figure for Type 2 emergency departments was 82.% and 99.9% for Type 3 emergency departments.

Government targets state that 95% of patients are to be seen within four hours of their arrival.

More than one in six (17.2%) of patients attending A&E were referred by a GP.

UUP health spokesman Roy Beggs MLA said that hospital waiting times in Northern Ireland would cause outrage if they occurred in the rest of the UK.

“With every passing month our waiting times are growing and set a new record for being the worst in history," he said.

“Last year doctors in England were warning that patients there were dying as a result of slightly deteriorating hospital performance times. Yet latest figures suggest that 79% of patients in England were seen within four hours. It was 89% in Scotland.

“I shudder to think what those same doctors would say about the fact that Northern Ireland’s rate fell to just 62% last month.

“Fortunately we had a very mild December and this winter’s strain of the flu is not nearly as virulent as last year’s. That just serves to demonstrate however, that under the surface the situation may be even worse. 

“Time is rapidly running out for the Secretary of State.  Health improvements are being delayed because of the lack of political approval by a Minister and Executive. 

"Unless immediate action is taken to restore a local Health Minister, or Direct Rule is introduced, I am concerned that it is only a matter of time before a dangerous crisis engulfs our local health service.”

There was 202,618 attendances at A&E departments during the quarter ending December 31, 2018, 2.4% more than the same quarter in 2017.

The number of emergency admissions to hospital from emergency departments increased by 0.9% (113) between December 2017 (12,961) and December 2018 (13,074).

The Ulster Hospital (8,216) and the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast (8,125) were the busiest A&E's during December 2018.

The average time spent in a type 1 emergency department by patients who were discharged home was two hours and 47 minutes, three minutes longer than the same period last year.

In December 2018 the average waiting time from triage to the start of treatment was 48 minutes, with 95% of patients receiving treatment within four hours and eight minutes.

Belfast Telegraph Digital

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