Belfast Telegraph

Ulster Hopsital’s A & E waiting times ‘horrifying’

by Fiona Rutherford

New statistics show that the Ulster Hospital’s A&E department had the highest number of people waiting more than 12 hours for treatment in the past year.

The Emergency Care 2009/2010 figures released by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety reveal that in that year, 1,336 people had to wait in the Ulster A & E for 12 hours or more.

DUP MLA Simon Hamilton said |he was “shocked” by the figures |and felt there was something “seriously wrong” in the South Eastern Trust area.

“I think everyone who attends an A & E department almost expects to wait a while to receive treatment andby and large the situation across Northern Ireland is that those who unfortunately have to go to casualty in their local hospital are dealt with fairly quickly,” he said.

“According to DHSSPS, 84% of patients were either treated and discharged or admitted within four hours of their arrival in the emergency care department. There does though seem to be a particularly worrying problem in our own South Eastern Trust area — 1,336 people who attended the A & E at the Ulster Hospital had to wait for an incredible 12 hours or more for their treatment.

“It is absolutely horrifying that, for example, someone who arrived in the Ulster A & E at 9pm would have to sit half a day until 9am for treatment and that this set of circumstances is occurring, on average, more than three times a day.”

According to a spokesperson for the Ulster Hospital, the Department of Health figures for 2009-10 show that 78% of people (55,914) waited in the Ulster’s emergency department less than four hours; 21% 4-12 hours (14,860); two pecent for 12 hours or more (1,336) and the statistics relate to the time from entering the department to either being discharged or admitted and not the wait before being seen. The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust says recent months have seen a “great improvement” with just one patient spending more than 12 hours in the emergency department out of 6,297 attendances in June and none of July’s 5,959 attendances.

Director of hospital services Seamus McGoran said: “Last year we had a particularly severe winter and dealt with large numbers of patients suffering from fractures and respiratory illnesses. This caused delays with patients being admitted to beds and some resulting longer waiting times in the ED.

“We have been working very hard, despite ever increasing demand, to reduce waiting times and this has been very successful as we see from figures for the past two months.

“We continue to deliver healthcare to a growing and ageing population which puts ever increasing pressure on services and on our staff who work extremely hard,” he added.

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