The number of patients attending South Tyrone Minor Injuries Unit has soared by 21.9 percent in the first three months of 2015.
Visitors have reported being turned away from Craigavon Area Hospital’s A&E Department and advised to attend the South Tyrone facility as hospitals cope with increasing pressures and reduced budgets.
However, in spite of the rapid increase which amounts to an extra 1,358 patients in the first three months of the year, the Dungannon unit has continued to meet and exceed emergency care targets, seeing and treating 99.9% of patients within 4 hours, with no-one waiting longer than 12 hours, according to a statement released by the Minister of Health Jim Wells.
The figures were released at the Northern Ireland Assembly after a question was tabled by UUP MLA Tom Elliott as to how the minor injuries unit was coping with increased pressures.
“I am sure that the Assembly will join me in thanking the staff in the Unit for the excellent service that they provide to the people in South Tyrone and adjacent areas”, said Minister Wells.
Provisional figures indicate there were 7,568 attendances at South Tyrone Minor Injuries Unit in the four months from December 2014 to March 2015. This is an increase of 21.9% compared to the same period in 2013/14 when there were 6,210 attendances.
Patient experiences at South Tyrone are starkly different from that of patients attending the A&E units of other hospitals.
In fact, Northern Ireland is the worst-performing region in the UK for seeing patients in emergency departments within the four-hour target, with patients having to wait over 12 hours for treatment at seven of Northern Ireland’s A&E departments in January.
Department of Health figures show that 380 people waited more than 12 hours, compared to 92 in the previous month.
In January, 54,910 people went to emergency departments compared to 56,656 in December.
The Ulster Hospital had the biggest rise in those waiting longer than 12 hours.