Thousands wait at A&E for treatment

A TOP health trust official has apologised after thousands were left waiting more than four hours at Craigavon Hospital’s Accident and Emergency department last month.

In figures released this week, It was revealed that 2,350 patients had to wait more than four hours to be treated during April.

And of those 56 people had to wait more than 12 hours to be treated at Accident and Emergency.

In statistics just published, 2,294 patients had to wait between four and 12 hours while 3,776 patients were seen within the four-hour period.

Interim Director of Acute Services for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Debbie Burns told the Mail she apologised to those patients who had to wait longer than normal.

She said: “Since mid-February the hospital network across the Southern Trust has been experiencing sustained pressure and high numbers of people have been attending the emergency departments at Craigavon and Daisy Hill hospitals.

“There has also been a marked increase in the numbers of more complex and acutely ill patients requiring admission to hospital for longer lengths of stay.

“I want to apologise to those patients waiting longer than normal in the emergency department. I also want to thank our staff for continuing to provide safe high quality care to patients during this very busy time.

“Although we remain busy, the pressures in the emergency department and elsewhere in the hospital, have eased in recent weeks and this has led to an improvement in waiting times.”

Craigavon’s Accident and Emergency - jointly with the Ulster Hospital - were the second worst in Northern Ireland at meeting a target to treat patients within four hours of arrival.

The latest waiting times reveal that both hospitals saw 61% of patients within the four hour window.

None of the province’s main A&E units met the target of treating patients within that time.

Health Minister Edwin Poots set a target whereby 95% of patients attending any A&E should be treated, discharged or admitted within four hours.