Antrim A&E waiting times ‘unacceptable’

Despite promises of better performance, the waiting times at Antrim Area Hospital’s A&E Department have drastically deteriorated

Despite promises of better performance, the waiting times at Antrim Area Hospital’s A&E Department have drastically deteriorated

And province wide, the number of patients waiting over 12 hours at emergency departments in Northern Ireland has more than doubled in a 12 month period.

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Department of Health statistics show that 288 people waited more than 12 hours for a bed, compared with 125 in November 2014.

Only three people were recorded as waiting more than 12 hours, compared with 79 the year before.

However, the numbers show that Antrim Area Hospital’s waiting times have deteriorated, from 13 last year to 170 in 2015.

Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann contended that it would be foolish to lay any blame for the waiting times on staff.

He argued that the entire system might well have collapsed but for the professionalism and dedication of those involved in the day to day running of the accident and emergency department.

South Antrim TUV representative Richard Cairns classified the statistics as ‘unaceptable’.

He said: “On average those waiting for more than 12 hours have doubled, but shockingly at Antrim Area Hospital those waiting for over 12 hours have increased by 1207% in 2015. That is not acceptable.

“That is a shocking state of affairs that patients have had to endure this year. The stress on the system at Antrim Area needs addressed. In the same period the Royal Victoria Hospital has witnessed a marked improvement. Those lessons learned from the RVH need now be applied to Antrim Area.”

Mr. Cairns joined with Robin Swann in calling for greater investment in the Health Service - especially in terms of bed provision.

He said: “TUV has consistently highlighted the fact that there has been a reduction in bed numbers, not just in Antrim but across Northern Ireland. It stands to reason that if the number of beds is reduced waiting times will naturally increase. The policy of running down essential services in this way while millions are squandered on maintaining a more expensive benefits system in Northern Ireland than other parts of the U.K. must end.”

The Health and Social Care Board said it was working with the trusts to provide better emergency care services over winter.

The board said it has invested more than £10m pounds to improve patient flow, as well as the development of minor injury streams in all emergency departments in Northern Ireland.

It said that while it was unacceptable that anyone had to wait more than 12 hours, steady progress had been made to reduce waiting times since 2011/12 when over 10,000 people waited more than 12 hours.