Update On Pressures At NI Emergency Departments

Emergency Departments in Northern Ireland continue to face pressures today with some patients still experiencing delays, however, the situation across the region has improved.

[caption id="attachment_43269" align="alignleft" width="390"]Time for a health check: Local health care across Northern Ireland is under pressure. Time for a health check: Local health care across Northern Ireland is under pressure.[/caption]

At 9am this morning there was one person waiting over 12 hours at this time compared to 40 people on Monday at 9am.

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.”

Trusts continue to implement their escalation plans to increase capacity to improve the flow of patients within hospitals using a range of actions including:

* Creating additional in-patient bed capacity; * Securing additional clinical staff to both care for patients and assist in the discharge process; * postponing some non-urgent elective operations; * Undertaking additional ward rounds and reviews of patients.

Mr Bloomfield 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 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:


Number of people waiting in Emergency Departments in Northern Ireland as at 9am on 7 January 2015 by Trust.


Total Number of people waiting in Accident & Emergency Departments = 139.

Belfast Health and Social Care Trust

Total Number of people waiting in Emergency Departments = 25

Northern Trust

Total Number of people waiting in Emergency Departments = 30

South Eastern Trust

Total Number of people waiting in Emergency Departments = 34

Southern Trust

Total Number of people waiting in Emergency Departments = 30

Western Trust

Total Number of people waiting in Emergency Departments = 20

Current Inpatient Complex Delayed Discharges on 7th January 2015

Complex Discharges are where patients require a package of care or other support to facilitate their discharge from hospital.


No. of Complex Delayed Discharges dn_screenBelfast Trust 48 Western Trust 53 South Eastern Trust 75 Northern Trust 41 Southern Trust Total 217 Whilst the Health and Social Care Board does not hold centrally the numbers of operations being postponed as a result of the ongoing pressures in Emergency Department, they are working with the Trusts to collate the numbers and they will be issued as soon as possible. Please note, the figures are complex as the position is very fluid as elective activity is being reviewed on a daily basis across Trusts; and any figures released into the public domain need to be verified to ensure they are accurate.  ]]>