Health and Social Care Board: Hospitals experiencing pressure on A&E departments

Altnagelvin Hospital
Altnagelvin Hospital

The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) have said the pressures Accident and Emergency departments in hospitals across the North, including the Western Area remain high despite some improvement.

In a statement released by the HSCB tonight, Michael Bloomfield, Director of Performance Management and Corporate Services with the Health and Social Care Board said: “All Trusts have experienced a challenging two week period as they have seen a 7% increase in activity in Emergency Departments compared with the same period last year. The Board is continuing to liaise with all Trusts to monitor the situation closely and will do so over the coming days, ensuring appropriate actions are being taken to address the pressures.”

As of 9am on January 7, there were 20 people seeking treatment in Western Trust facilities. In the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust there were 25, there were thirty in the Northern Trust and 34 in the South Eastern Trust, whilst in the Southern Trust there were 30. The total across northern Ireland was at 139.

There were also 217 Complex Delayed Discharges. That term is used to describe when patients require a package of care or other support to facilitate their discharge from hospital. From that total of 217, 53 of these cases were in the Western Trust.

The statement however also confirmed that at 9am this morning there was one person waiting over 12 hours at this time compared to 40 people on Monday at 9am.

The statement continued: ““It is regrettable that some patients have had their non-urgent elective operations postponed as part of Trusts’ normal escalation arrangements. Trusts have advised the Board that they will be doing all they can to ensure that any procedures that have been postponed are rescheduled as soon as possible and those affected kept informed.”

“The number of cancellations varies across Trusts and Trusts are reviewing the position daily to minimise the impact on patients. Those people affected have been contacted by Trusts by telephone or by text in some instances whereby individuals did not answer calls.”

Commending the staff for their efforts in easing pressures Mr Bloomfield also said: “The continuing efforts of clinical and managerial teams across all Trusts are evident based on the reduction in the number of patients waiting over 12 hours today. However, this will continue to be a challenging week for staff.

“Patients in Emergency Departments who need to be admitted will continue to be placed in beds based on their identified clinical priority. It is entirely appropriate that patients are prioritised in this way, though it may mean that some patients wait longer than others before being allocated a bed.

“In order to help ease the current pressures on our Emergency Departments, which provide the highest level of emergency care for patients, especially those with sudden and acute illness or severe trauma, the Board would encourage members of the public who require care to ensure they choose the right care service for them in line with our current ‘Choose Well’ campaign.

“Many common ailments can be treated effectively through self-care at home or by seeking advice from your local pharmacist; however those with serious concerns about their health should of course always consult their GP or an Out-of-hours service such as Minor Injury Units or GP Out-of-Hours. Emergency and 999 services are for life threatening and serious conditions. By choosing the right care for you, this will help ensure that Emergency Departments are used appropriately and ease pressures on the service,” he said.

For more information about Choose Well and the range of services available visit