Craigavon beats Antrim on delivery of emergency care

  • Antrim Area Hospital saw 62.7% of emergency patients within four hours in June
  • Craigavon Area Hospital saw 73.2% of emergency patients within four hours in June
  • Ministerial targets require 95% of emergency patients to be seen in four hours

The Emergency Department at Antrim Area Hospital is the worst performing on waiting times, according to Department of Health statistics.

The Health Minister set targets that require each of the 11 A&Es in Northern Ireland to treat, discharge or admit 95 per cent of patients within four hours of their arrival.

Antrim Area Hospital

Antrim Area Hospital

The only Emergency Department [ED] to meet the target was Royal Victoria Hospital [ENT and RAES] - which is now reported independently of the hospital’s main ED.

But with just 62.7% of patients tended to within the required time in June, Antrim came bottom of the table.

Craigavon, which also services Mid Ulster, placed six out of the 11 on the list with 73.2% of patients seen in four hours.

On a more positive note, however, Antrim vastly reduced the number of patients waiting over 12 hours for treatment from 75 in May to just five in June meaning it outperformed the Mater, Royal Victoria and Ulster hospitals on that front.

While Craigavon was one of the seven Type 1 EDs where everyone was treated within 12 hours of arrival at hospital.

A spokesperson for the Northern Trust said EDs are finding it difficult to meet the Minister’s expectations because of the growing numbers of people attending casualties.

“The Emergency Department at Antrim Area Hospital remains very busy,” they said. “This reflects a pattern that is seen across the UK of increasing attendances of patients with complex needs and higher admissions as a result.

“In Antrim Area Hospital we have seen significant reductions in patients waiting more than 12 hours and there is on-going improvement year-on-year.

“The Trust continues to explore alternative pathways to the traditional attendance at an ED and as a result, we now have a successful Acute Assessment Unit at Antrim Area Hospital and a Rapid Access Clinic. Both allow GPs direct access to senior medical advice and consultation.”

A spokesperson for the Southern Trust added: “Between April and June 2015, Craigavon’s Emergency Department had the largest increase across Northern Ireland in monthly attendances (559), from 6,533 in April 2015 to 7,092 in June 2015.

“Despite the extra demands, no patients waited longer than the 12 hour Ministerial target in Craigavon’s Emergency Department [and] the vast majority were treated within four hours.”

Both Trusts have asked the public to think about the sort of care they need before attending EDs as “significant numbers of people [are] attending emergency departments with minor ailments and they are diverting doctors and nurses from the job of dealing with people who are real emergencies”.

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