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Waiting times over 12 hours in Northern Ireland's A&Es have nearly tripled in past year

Waiting times of over 12 hours in the north's emergency departments have almost tripled in past year
Áine Quinn

WAITING times of more than 12 hours in Northern Ireland's emergency departments have nearly tripled in the past year, according to new figures.

Figures from the Department of Health (DoH) showed the number of patients waiting longer than 12 hours for treatment increased from 6,494 in 2016/17 to 17,347 in 2017/18.

The most notable increase in patients waiting longer than 12 hours was at the Ulster Hospital, where patients waiting to be seen rose from 1,279 in 2016/17 to 4,553 in 2017/18.

The Health and Social Care Board said in a statement that all emergency departments across the north had experienced a challenging year and these figures are "not acceptable."

It said: "About three out of four people attending ED were seen and treated within four hours, however, more people had to wait longer than 12 hours to be seen, treated and either discharged or admitted to hospital. We recognise this needs to improve.

"In 2018/19 more than £8m of transformation funding will be invested into reforming and enhancing services that should help reduce the pressures on emergency care."

The figures from the DoH also show the number of people going to emergency departments have increased.

Numbers rose from 797,666 to 823,236 in 2017/18 - an increase of more than 25,000 people attending.

The Ambulance Service is also under increased pressure with a 15 per cent increase in emergency calls over a period of four years. The number of call outs rose from 50,913 in 2013/14 to 58,655 in 2017/18.

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