Northern Ireland news

Trust reveals Ulster Hospital under 'extreme pressure'

Ambulances queued up outside the Ulster Hospital yesterday. Picture by Mal McCann

The South Eastern Health Trust last night confirmed the Ulster Hospital has been "under extreme pressure for some days".

Amid reports that the Dundonald hospital has reached full capacity, resulting in ambulances having to queue for extended periods outside to drop off patients, the Trust said "staff across the hospital are working together to create capacity in the wards to ensure that patients are transferred from ED to allow the team to offload another patient from an ambulance as soon as possible".

A Trust spokeswoman said there had been "occasions when some patients have had to wait to allow the team to prepare a space for them to be assessed in either the Covid-19 or non-Covid-19 areas in ED".

She said there had also occasions when "ambulances have waited to offload patients to the Covid-19 or non-Covid-19 spaces in ED.

"While waiting, the ambulance crews attend to the needs of the patient," she said.

"They communicate regularly with the ED team about the patient. Staff across the hospital are working together to create capacity in the wards to ensure that patients are transferred from ED to allow the team to offload another patient from an ambulance as soon as possible".

The spokeswoman also revealed that at times the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service "has transferred patients from the Ulster Hospital to the Mater Hospital. This is line with protocols agreed between the Trusts".

She added: "There are two areas in the Ulster ED: Covid-19 and non-Covid-19.

"There are occasions every day when one area has more patients than the other, depending on the signs and symptoms of the patients presenting for assessment. There are occasions when both areas have many patients".

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