16% rise in numbers attending Altnagelvin

Ms O'Kane spent seven weeks in hospital after the fall.
Ms O'Kane spent seven weeks in hospital after the fall.

There has been a staggering 16% increase in the number of people attending Altnagelvin’s Emergency Department for treatment.

Members of the Western Trust were told at their monthly meeting on Thursday that in the month of December there were nine breaches of patients waiting more than twelve hours for unscheduled care at Altnagelvin’s Casualty Department and five in the emergency department of the South West Acute Hospital.

Geraldine McKay, Director of Acute Hospitals told the board that if the increase in demand continues, 6,000 more patients will have been seen at Altnagelvin Hospital than last year.

She revealed that there may be several reasons for the breach in the 12 hour wait.

“There are times when it is safer for a patient to stay where they are to make sure they are going to the right ward,” she said. “We are finding it difficult to get extra nursing staff and open extra beds.

“Everyone is putting in a huge effort but the demand is increasing, nurses are tired. Demand is up by 16%.

“We thought the increase in demand for services would stop but it has continued rising every month. We are currently looking at analysing the post code of patients. We have a consultant clinician looking at the profile of every patient.”

Alan Corry-Finn, Executive Director of Nursing said there was a problem with a global shortage of nurses.

He said that in the past the Trust had been able to recruit nurses from the Philippines.

“It’s estimated that there is global shortage of around one million nurses,” he said.

Chief Executive Elaine Way said it was their job to make the case for recurring funding.

“We are extremely busy,” she said, “but staff are coping well and the performance we are seeing is excellent.”