Massive jump in A&E patients waiting over 12hrs

A&E departments are becoming increasingly busy year on year. (Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)
A&E departments are becoming increasingly busy year on year. (Picture: Peter Byrne/PA Wire)

New figures published yesterday show that the number of 12 hour breaches at A&E in the Western Trust over the festive period has increased almost seven-fold on last year.

The shocking figures revealed there were 432 cases of people waiting over 12 hours for treatment from December 30, 2019 to January 3, 2020. This dwarfed the 63 cases for the same period the previous year.

A total of 4,046 people showed up at the two A&E departments at Altnagelvin and South West Acute Hospitals over Christmas and New Year - which was actually 270 less than in 2018/19. Just under half were treated within four hours, which was much worse than the 67% last year.

Patients being admitted to a hospital bed waited on average 11 hours 34 minutes - almost double the 6hrs 3min for the 2018 Christmas period.

The Western Trust was not alone however, as waiting times worsened right across the north. A spokesperson for the Health and Social Care Board said that like other parts of the UK and Ireland, services ‘have and continue to be under sustained pressure’.

Paying tribute to staff who have been “working tirelessly” to provide care, the spokesperson said more older people with complex problems presenting, ‘well documented’ workplace shortages, and the impact of flu and norovirus all contributed to the issues.

“Despite the plans in place, some patients have had to wait for unacceptably long periods in Emergency Departments – for that we sincerely apologise. In the longer term, we need a radical transformation of services. The Dept. of Health is currently carrying out a review of urgent and emergency care to establish a new regional care model for the next 10-15 years. An initial report is expected early 2020.”