‘Significant pressures’ at A&E Departments

Altnagelvin Hospital's A &E entrance (right).
Altnagelvin Hospital's A &E entrance (right).

Emergency Departments and GP services across the north are facing significant pressures over the festive holiday period, Health and Social Care organisations have warned.

Dr John Maxwell, a senior Emergency Department consultant and Chair of Division, Emergency Medicine, has called on people to only use Emergency Departments for urgent and life threatening conditions.

Dr Maxwell said: “EDs across Northern Ireland have been under pressure for a number of months and we know that attendances over the holiday period will rise significantly.

“Staff are working tirelessly in challenging circumstances but we also need the public’s help to ensure that the sickest patients get the care they need. The most clinically urgent patients will continue to be prioritised and those with less serious needs should consider using alternative services to avoid lengthy waits.”

The Department of Health has allocated an extra £7m to help alleviate some of the winter pressures this year.

Dr Maxwell said: “Our core focus is to assist people in avoiding hospital in the first place through helping them stay well. We are also working hard to ensure people, if they require hospital treatment, can move quickly and safely through the hospital and back into the community when their treatment in hospital has been completed.

“One of the ways patients and their families can help is to work with Trusts in relation to any ongoing care needs, which may involve agreeing to a temporary move to a nursing or residential home if their first choice isn’t available. This would help avoid people staying in hospital longer than they need to and free up beds.”