Rise in numbers attending Antrim and Causeway emergency units, Trust board told

Attendance at emergency departments at the Northern Trust’s acute hospitals has returned to pre-Covid levels, Trust board members were told at a meeting on Thursday.

Board members were told that May is traditionally a busy month in the ED when barbecues and trampolines are in use.

Neil Martin, interim divisional director of Strategic Development, reported that 7,546 patients were in attendance at Antrim’s ED last month with 7,625 in April 2019 and 2,772 at Causeway Hospital, in Coleraine, this month and 2,862 in May 2019.

Audrey Harris, interim Ddrector of Medicine and Emergency Medicine, pointed out that “social distancing becomes more challenging with numbers returning” and underlined the need to remain “Covid cautious”.

Antrim Area Hospital Emergency Department. Picture by Jonathan Porter/PressEye

For urgent care treatment that is not life-threatening, people are urged to phone first before going to Antrim or Causeway Hospital emergency department or Mid Ulster Hospital’s Minor Injuries Unit.

Wendy Magown, interim director of Operations, told members that two weeks ago, almost 200 people were waiting in EDs across Northern Ireland “who should have been in a hospital bed”.

She indicated that there is a total of 160 beds at the Causeway Hospital.

She went on to say that ambulances waiting at hospitals is “completely futile”.

“We need to work with our Northern Ireland Ambulance Service colleagues to ensure that everything that can be done is being done.”

In response to a query over social distancing, Suzanne Pullins, interim executive director of Nursing, said: “Social distancing, I believe is with us for some time.

“At this stage, there is no indication that we are going to reduce the need for two metre social distancing in hospital or health facilities.”

Michelle Weir, Local Democracy Reporter


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