Praise for Altnagelvin Emergency Department’s ‘hardworking’ staff

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Staff at Altnagelvin Hospital’s Emergency Department have been praised for their dedication after a new report highlighted their strong performance despite growing pressures.

Mark Gillespie, Assistant Director for Emergency Medicine said the staff at Derry’s Casualty department were dedicated to treating patients as quickly as possible, as borne out in the report into Emergency Care in Northern Ireland.

The Department of Health report has confirmed that the number of people arriving at the Emergency Department in Derry has jumped from 57,837 back in 2014/15 to almost 72,000 for the year to the start of April 2019.

Mr Gillespie told the Journal: “The Western Trust is committed to ensuring that patients do not have to wait any longer than necessary when being seen and treated at one of our emergency departments.

“As evidenced by the report we are showing continued year-on-year improvement in the vast majority of measured waiting times.

“Altnagelvin Hospital has seen an increase in the number of attendances in our Emergency Department (ED) since 2014 of 24.2 per cent, which is significantly higher than the average increase across HSC Trusts of 15.1 per cent. Our ED is the best performing large ED in Northern Ireland with 71.2% of patients triaged and treated within the four hour target.

“I would wish to pay tribute to our hardworking and dedicated staff who strive to treat patients as quickly as possible.”

Mr Gillespie said that like all other Health Trusts, they have experienced “significant pressures” during the first few months of 2019”. largely due to winter pressures and more people attending the hospital for respiratory, flu-like and winter vomiting bug illnesses,.

He added: “Regionally all Trusts have workforce challenges which influence and impair their ability to operate their full-bed capacity within the hospital. This has a direct impact on patient flow through the emergency departments.”

Mr Gillespie continued: “We have a number of initiatives and services that support the flow of patients through the hospital. Our Ambulatory Care Unit operates a service whereby local GPs can refer patients directly for more urgent diagnostic tests.

“Our Acute Care At Home team provides hospital-like care to patients in their own homes.

“Acute Care At Home is an excellent example of how people can recover better in their home when they have access to the same treatment and care available in hospital.

“The Trust also has a close working relationship with colleagues in Western Urgent Care to ensure sufficient medical capacity out of hours and at weekends.”

The time it took from a patient being triaged to starting treatment last year was lowest in the Western Trust area, and at Altnagelvin Hospital the average time was just 32 minutes last year, compared to 56 minutes five years ago.

The average time spent in Derry’s Emergency Department by those who were not then admitted to hospital, stood at two hours and 22 minutes.