Ambulances squeezed into the arrival bay at Craigavon Hospital’s Emergency Department last night in what was described as ‘the worst yet’ by one local politician.
Around a dozen ambulances were waiting at the underpressure ED at 11pm last night with the department bursting at the seams with sick patients.
SDLP Cllr Declan McAlinden got a late night call from a member of staff at the hospital concerned at the influx of ambulances and patients.
“I got out of my bed at around 10.30pm and headed over to the Emergency Department and couldn’t believe my eyes,” he said.
“There were patients everywhere, in the halls and corridors and some waiting in ambulances,” said the councillor.
“When I arrived there were around ten ambulances sitting outside the hospital.
“Inside was bedlam with several patients walking around with masked, some in wheelchairs hooked up to breathing apparatus and others laying in beds in corridors many of them elderly,” he said.
“It is clearly very frustrating for these patients, some of whom have come from as far away as Cookstown and Pomeroy.
“Some of them told me they had been waiting for a lot more than 12 hours. That is unacceptable,” said Cllr McAlinden.
“Staff are under severe pressure and are doing a fantastic job,” he added
“It is the ordinary people who are suffering and it is about time the MLAs get back to business.
“The uncertainty and lack of government at Stormont is exacerbating this crisis. I could challenge our MLAs to take an hour and see just how bad it is at Craigavon Hospital,” he said.
A spokesperson for the Southern Health Trust said: “Monday is always one of the busiest days of the week for Emergency Departments and last night was no exception for Craigavon Area Hospital ED.
“Attendances at Craigavon Area Hospital ED on Monday were just above average, and there were high numbers of sick patients requiring admission to hospital beds. 72 ambulances arrived at Craigavon’s ED on Monday, which is not unexpected at this time of year.
“There was a ‘spike’ in activity in the ED in the early evening period and this made the ED busier for a time, which is quite normal for an Emergency Department.
“Some patients did experience lengthy waiting times because of the high demand for beds across the hospital and we apologise to them for having to wait longer.”