A&E waiting times under the microscope

Antrim Area Hospital, which caters for the Ballymena area, is once again in the spotlight over performance levels at its Accident and Emergency Unit.

A Department of Health survey noted that the 12-hour waiting time target for Northern Ireland A&E units was breached more than 700 times between April and June with the majority of the breaches at Belfast’s Royal Victoria Hospital and Antrim Area hospital.

Antrim Area Hospital’s 12-hour waiting times were breached 122 times in April and 63 times in June.

This is in stark contrast to the emergency departments of Londonderry’s Altnagelvin Hospital, the South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen or the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine where no patient waited in excess of 12 hours.

Newry’s Daisy Hill Hospital, Craigavon Area Hospital and the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children each recorded just one patient waiting more than 12 hours between April and June.

DUP South Antrim MLA Trevor Clarke spoke of his disappointment that Antrim Area Hospital waiting times continue to be breached.

“Recent figures have conveyed how the 12 hour waiting time target for Northern Ireland A&E units were breached more than 700 times between April and June, this year, with Antrim Area Hospital being one of the majority,” Mr Clarke said.

He added: “This was disappointing to hear, considering the Minister of Health made major investment in Antrim Area Hospital, and yet the Trust continues to fail.

“The new A&E department should have helped to resolve this issue of long waiting hours, and whilst Antrim Area Hospital’s waiting times improved from April to June, the figures show that more still needs to be done to improve patient flow.”

Mr Clarke finally added that A&E departments usually see an improvement during summer months, due to a decrease of numbers, compared to winter and therefore the number of breaches should also be improving.

“Yet this is not what is being conveyed. The Trust needs to learn from their previous mistakes and take the appropriate steps to prevent long waiting hours, as it seems obvious that the Trust systems are continuing to fail,” Mr Clarke added.