1 consultant, 6 doctors 9 nurses, 219 patients in A&E Department

OCTOBER 8 - 8pm: The A&E department at Antrim Hospital was staffed by just one consultant, six doctors and nine trained nursing staff.

This staffing level had to cope with over 200 patients in casualty.

A total of 26 people were forced to wait more than 12 hours for a hospital bed.

One shocked Mid Ulster Mail reader described the A&E unit as Armageddon.

Reluctant to be named, she described how a relative was forced to wait 16 hours in A&E much of it on a trolley despite being regarded as an urgent case.

“That place was bedlam. There was hardly a seat in the waiting area,” she said.

From 6pm until 10pm her relative was forced to lie on a trolley in the corridor despite being gravely ill.

Even when he did receive a bed, he was forced to share a cramped cubicle with another patient in the casualty department.

The Mid Ulster Mail reader said when she contacted A&E the next morning the person she spoke to ‘was at the end of her tether’.

“She said this was shocking. She even said that if her mother was ill she would dread to think what could happen,” said the Mail reader .

“There were people everywhere. There was a wee woman laying on a trolley in the corridor and she was begging me for help. Nurses hadn’t time. I felt bad to stop a nurse and ask her what was happening because they just hadn’t time,” she said.

“It’s terrible. Anybody that has to go there, I don’t know. I don’t know if you would be better driving to Coleraine. I think it’s got to the stage now where people are actually going to Craigavon.

“They haven’t the staff and they haven’t the facilities and they haven’t the room. It’s a disaster,” she said.

She urged the Health Minister to land in unannounced to see what the hospital is really like.

“That poor wee woman laying there begging ‘help me, help me’. It was like Armageddon - just unbelievable.

“There is going to be an awful tragedy there.

“Staff morale is so low. I think they are petrified of saying anything in case they are blacklisted for the rest of their lives,” said the reader.

Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone said: “This is incredibly bad. This is just disastrous and it is before we even get into the bad Winter.

“This is completely and utterly unacceptable that people with serious conditions should be left on trolleys.

“There is total and complete under capacity at Antrim Area Hospital,” said Mr McGlone.

“We told the management time and time again that by running down and closing beds at the Mid Ulster Hospital they were going to create huge problems at Antrim Area Hospital because it hadn’t the capacity to catch and provide for all the people.

“Here we have a crisis situation now and this is before we even get into the depths of what could be a bad winter like last year,” said the MLA.

Mr McGlone said he will be meeting with senior management of the Trust to see how they are going to deal with the situation before it gets any worse.

When initially contacted by the Trust to ask for comment and statistics, a spokesperson said: “Over the period 27 and 30 September and from 3 October, unfortunately there have been delays in patients moving to wards at Antrim Hospital. 

“All staff are working to minimise delays in patient journeys and to ensure patients receive timely care.

“The Trust is implementing a range of measures as part of an Improvement Plan for Unscheduled Care. 

“The Trust regrets when patients experience delays, this is monitored on a continual basis and appropriate solutions sought. Our key priority remains ensuring that all patients receive safe, reliable care,” said a spokesperson.

The Mid Ulster Mail contacted the Trust again requesting the statistics. The Trust statement said: “On Tuesday 4 October the Northern Trust experienced a higher than usual number of patients presenting at A&E. On Tuesday Antrim A&E had 219 completed waits in total, with 26 waiting over 12 hours for a bed.

“On the night of Tuesday 4 October at 8pm there were six doctors, one consultants and 9 trained nursing staff.”