Derry A&E consultant asks for patience as discharge logjam and COVID pile on hospital pressures

An A&E consultant in Derry’s Altnagelvin Hospital has asked for patience as he spoke of how busy the department is with pressures compounded by difficulties in discharging patients to free up beds at the hospital.

The Western trust meanwhile said a high volume of COVID patients and COVID outbreaks was adding to the pressures facing the Derry hospital.

Consultant Ryan Smith in a video message issued by the Western trust said: “We currently have 33 assessment cubicles of which 23 are majors and ambulatory cubicles; six COVID cubicles and four resuscitation cubicles.

“On an average day we would see approximately above 200 patients on average of which 80% of which we would see and discharge from the department and approximately one in five would require admission to the hospital for further assessment or ongoing management.

Ryan Smyth, A&E Consultant at Altnagelvin.

“Due to the current inpatient pressures and the difficulty in discharging patients back into the community there is a backlog within our department which routinely sees each of our cubicles being taken up by an inpatient. Due to this we try and strive to provide the best comfort we can for our patients but this cannot be done in all instances.

“We would ask for your patience regarding this and we would be keen that whenever you present to the department that you will have patience with regard to the assessment within in the department.”

Meanwhile the Western Trust said its hospitals are “extremely busy as we head into the weekend, dealing with high numbers of patients across the sites, including increasing numbers of COVID positive patients”.

In a statement issued on Friday night, a spokesperson said: “Our ED at Altnagelvin is busy with over 90 people currently in the department and 28 requiring admission for further treatment or investigations. Hospital space is at a premium due to a number of COVID outbreaks and a high volume of COVID positive patients putting pressure on bed capacity.

“If your situation is life-threatening, a medical or mental health emergency, then call 999 immediately or proceed straight to the Emergency Department.

“If you have an urgent, non-emergency medical situation, then we ask that you utilise the Phone First service on 0300 020 6000 where medical personnel will direct you to the best route of treatment. This may include visiting a Minor Injuries Unit or Out of Hours GP.

“We also urge the assistance of families in expediting discharge. If a loved one is recommended for discharge, we would appeal to family members or carers to work with us to bring them home promptly.

Thank you for your ongoing patience and support. Our staff continue to do their very best through these challenging times.”