Trust reveals 185 A&E deaths in past 4 years

Altnagelvin Hospital's A &E entrance (right).
Altnagelvin Hospital's A &E entrance (right).

The Western Trust has revealed there were 185 Accident &Emergency (A&E) deaths in, or on the way to, Altnagelvin Hospital’s emergency department over the past four years.

The local health authority explained that the figure included the deaths of people who died in transit following A&E ambulance call-outs.

Releasing the details in response to a Freedom of Information Request, the Trust Chief Executive, Elaine Way, stated: “The Trust can provide information from the mortuary system, but would stress that this is categorised as ‘A&E deaths’ rather than ‘deaths in A&E departments’.

“This data will include deaths en-route to A&E which would not be registered on the A&E system and would not be considered ‘deaths in A&E’.”

The number of A&E deaths at the Derry hospital decreased from 57 in 2013; to 41 in 2014; before rising again to 44 deaths in 2015; and falling back to 43 in 2016.

The data also shows the number of male ‘A&E deaths’ outnumbered female deaths over the four years. There were 30 male deaths in 2013; 23 in 2014; 25 in 2015; and 30 in 2016; or 108 deaths in total.

This compared with 27 female deaths in 2013: 18 in 2014; 19 in 2015; and 13 in 2016; or 77 deaths.

The information was released after Hugh McCloy, a health campaigner and unsuccessful independent candidate in the recent Assembly Election in Mid Ulster, challenged an initial decision by the Western Trust not to disclose details.

Following an internal review of the refusal decision, Mrs. Way, explained that the Trust was capable only of extracting details from the ‘mortuary’ system, which counts the deaths of people in A&E alongside the deaths of those who have died on the way to hospital.

“Staff within the Acute Service Directorate would reiterate that the specific information you have requested is not readily available from our A&E systems (Symphony).

“To provide accurate information from the WHSCT A&E systems would involve an extensive manual search, which would be time-consuming,” said Mrs. Way.

The Trust also released details for the South West Acute Hospital over the past four years.

There were 46 male A&E deaths and 42 A&E female deaths at the Enniskillen hospital between 2013 and 2017, 88 deaths in total.