All five NI health trusts report serious pressures on Emergency Departments and ask public to stay away if possible

All five of Northern Ireland’s health trusts asked the public to avoid emergency departments at some of their hospitals yesterday due to extreme pressures.

Ambulances outside the emergency department entrance of Craigavon Area Hospital. Deputy First Minister Michelle O'Neill has warned Northern Ireland is currently experiencing is pandemic worst case scenario.

Emergency departments (EDs) were “extremely busy” over the Bank Holiday weekend and health trusts appealed for people to use their out-of-hours GP service for non-emergencies.

Altnagelvin Hospital said the ED was very busy yesterday, with more than 60 people waiting in the ED and 24 people waiting to be admitted.

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Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital said there were 95 people in its ED, some waiting for admittance, others having been triaged and awaiting treatment.

Antrim Area Hospital had 94 people in its, again all at various stages of treatment.

Belfast Trust said the Royal’s ED had seen 546 people over the weekend while the Northern Trust said 486 people had been through Antrim Hospital’s ED over the weekend, and 247 at Causeway Hospital. Yesterday afternoon there were 44 people in Causeway’s ED.

Health officials said that those with serious illnesses and life-threatening injuries will be seen first.

The Southern Trust said that Craigavon emergency department was “already very busy” yesterday morning. “Expect extremely long waiting times as Covid-19 continues to impact on bed pressures,” they said in a tweet.

The South Eastern Trust posted that the Ulster Hospital emergency department was under “extreme pressure” while the Northern Trust said EDs at both Antrim Area and Causeway Hospitals were “extremely busy”.

The Western Trust also said EDs at the South West Acute Hospital and Altnagelvin Hospital were also “very busy” while Belfast Trust said the ED at the Children’s Hospital was also “extremely busy”.

Dr Alan Stout, British Medical Association NI’s GP committee chair, told the BBC: “Part of it is Covid-related and part of it is due to some of the conditions that have waited or not sought attention over the Covid period, but also the waiting lists and the knock-on impact of the waiting lists.”

Dr Laurence Dorman, of the Royal College of GPs, said: “There are typically more accidents on Bank Holiday weekends but there is also definitely added pressure from Covid.”

A further 1,259 positive cases of Covid-19 were reported in NI yesterday as well as six deaths in the previous 24 hours, the Department of Health said.

To date, 2,442,855 vaccines have been administered in Northern Ireland.

Meanwhile, scientists have warned in the scientific journal Nature, that a Covid variant first identified in South Africa, known as C.1.2, “could be more infectious” than all other mutations so far. However, they said the full impications are not yet clear and urged a “refocus” on the public health response in South Africa.


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