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646 patients waited at least 12 hours in A&E over Christmas and new year

Winter pressures on the health service have led to high numbers of people waiting at least 12 hours in emergency departments

MORE than 640 patients had to wait at least 12 hours in Accident and Emergency departments in hospitals across the north over Christmas and the new year, figures show.

The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) statistics cover the period from Christmas Eve to January 3.

Antrim Area Hospital had the highest number of 12 hour waits, followed by Ulster Hospital in Dundonald. Causeway Hospital in Coleraine had the fewest. 

Altnagelvin Hospital declared a 'major incident' on January 2 such was the pressure on its A&E. Three other hospitals also triggered 999 diverts which meant they closed to new patients and ambulances were redirected to a hospital A&E where the pressure was less. The longest divert lasted 16 hours and was at the Mater in Belfast.

HSCB said the number of people attending A&Es was up eight per cent on last year and added that it was "regrettable that some people are having to wait longer to be treated in emergency departments or to be admitted to hospital at this time".

Almost two thirds of patients had a wait of four hours or less.

The board reminded people that if they do not need urgent medical attention they should use alternative services such as a pharmacy, minor injuries unit, GP or GP out of hours service.

"Patients who present at emergency departments will always be dealt with in order of clinical priority so more acutely ill patients will be seen first."

The number of patients at each A&E who had to wait 12 hours or more:

  • Antrim Hospital  198 patients
  • Ulster  128
  • Craigavon  71
  • South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen 54
  • Royal Victoria Hospital  53
  • Altnagelvin  46
  • Mater  37
  • Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry 32
  • Causeway Hospital in Coleraine  27
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