More Patients Attending A&E Over Past Year


Department of Health Statement on Emergency Care Waiting Times.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said the latest statistics show a significant increase in the number of patients attending Emergency Departments (ED) compared to the same period in 2018 and added: “It is inevitable that demand for services will increase further over the winter period and, whilst additional measures will be put in place to address the need, it is anticipated that the months ahead will be extremely challenging for Emergency Departments and the dedicated staff who work there.

“To help ensure limited services are used to best effect it is important the public understand how they should seek help. If you are seriously ill or injured, then the Emergency Department is the place to go, no matter how busy it may be.

The seasonal increase in patients presenting to A&E’s across Northern Ireland is ongoing – the Department of Health has indicated there are other options for treatment if the conditions is not urgent.

“If you attend an ED, you will be assessed – triaged – as quickly as possible, with the most urgent medical cases given the greatest priority. If you are not assessed as urgent you may have to wait for a lengthy period.

“If you do not need emergency care, a range of alternative services is available.  These include using the online A-Z symptom checker, seeking advice from a pharmacist, going to a Minor Injury Unit, or contacting a GP or the GP Out of Hours services – if your medical condition can’t wait until the GP surgery reopens.

“In the longer term, transforming the way services are accessed and delivered will be essential. A review of urgent and emergency care is making good progress and plans are in place to publish an initial report early in the New Year which will outline an analysis of the key challenges facing services and potential solutions.”

Emergency Care Waiting Time Statistics July – September 2019

The Department of Health (DoH) has published statistics on the time spent in emergency care departments (ED) throughout Northern Ireland during the months of July, August and September 2019.

The statistical bulletin presents information on all new and unplanned review attendances during July, August and September 2019. It details information on the time spent in EDs during each of these months including; the monthly performance against DoH emergency care waiting times target for EDs and the time waited for key milestones during a patient’s journey through ED, whilst they are being cared for in an ED, including the time to triage and time to start of treatment.

This information release is published on the Departmental website at:

Key Points:

Attendances at Emergency Care Departments:


  • During September 2019, there were 71,280 attendances at EDs in Northern Ireland, 5,039 (7.6%) more than in September 2018 (66,241).
  • Of the 71,280 ED attendances during September 2019, 57,554 (80.7%) had attended a Type 1 ED, 5,859 (8.2%) attended a Type 2 ED and 7,867 (11%) attended a Type 3 ED.
  • Between September 2018 and September 2019, attendances increased at Type 1 EDs (3,386, 6.3%), Type 2 EDs (683, 13.2%) and Type 3 EDs (970, 14.1%).
  • There were 214,685 attendances at EDs during the quarter ending 30 September 2019, 4.6% (9,443) more than during the same quarter in 2018 (205,242).

Left before Treatment Complete:

  • During September 2019, 5.1% of ED attendances left before their treatment had been completed.

Unplanned Re-Attendances within seven days:

  • During September 2019, 3.7% of the 71,280 ED attendances were unplanned review attendances who had returned to the same ED within seven days of their original attendance for the same condition.

Referrals by GP:

  • Almost one in six (16.3%) attendances at EDs in September 2019 had been referred by a GP, similar to September 2018 (16.3%).

Time Spent in Emergency Care Departments:

Performance against Targets

  • Almost six in ten (59.6%) attendances at Type 1 EDs in September 2019 were treated and discharged, or admitted within four hours of their arrival, 6.4 percentage points lower than September 2018 (66%).
  • Almost eight in ten (78.7%) patients attending a Type 2 ED in September 2019 were treated and discharged, or admitted within four hours of their arrival, 7.2 percentage points lower than September 2018 (85.9%).
  • Almost all (99.4%) patients attending a Type 3 ED were treated and discharged, or admitted within four hours of their arrival, 0.5 percentage points lower than September 2018 (99.9%).
  • Between September 2018 and September 2019, the number waiting longer than 12 hours increased from 1,714 to 3,482, accounting for 4.9% of all attendances in September 2019.
  • Over three quarters (75.7%) of patients attending ED commenced their treatment within two hours of being triaged, 5.8 percentage points lower than September 2018 (81.5%).
  • During the quarter ending 30 September 2019, almost two thirds (66.9%) of patients were treated and discharged or admitted within four hours, 4.4 percentage points less than the same quarter in 2018 (71.3%).

Time to Triage:

  • The median waiting time from arrival at an ED to triage (initial assessment) by a medical professional was 10 minutes during September 2019, with 95% of patients having their care needs assessed for the first time by a medical professional within 41 minutes of arrival.

Time to Start of Treatment:

  • During September 2019, the median waiting time from triage to the start of treatment by a medical professional was 51 minutes, with 95% of patients receiving treatment within 4 hours 35 minutes of being triaged.

Total Time in Emergency Care Department:

  • The median time spent in a Type 1 ED by patients who were discharged home (not admitted) was 2 hours 54 minutes in September 2019, 19 minutes more than the same month last year (2 hours 35 minutes).
  • The median time spent in a Type 1 ED for patients admitted to hospital was 7 hours 25 minutes in September 2019, 1 hour 6 minutes more than the same month last year (6 hours 19 minutes).
  • During September 2019, the Craigavon Area reported the longest median time spent in an ED from arrival to admission to hospital in a Type 1 ED (9 hours 33 minutes), whilst the RBHSC reported the shortest median time of 3 hours 45 minutes.