Emergency Department performance in Northern Ireland is far below par

24 January 2019

Responding to the latest Emergency Care Waiting Time Statistics for October to December 2018, Dr Ian Crawford, Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Northern Ireland, said: 

“Despite the relatively mild start to the winter and fewer cases of influenza, a third of our patients are still spending more than four hours in our Emergency Departments (EDs) in Northern Ireland, which continues to be worse for our patients and staff than anywhere else in the UK. 

“6102 patients spent over 12 hours in our EDs in Northern Ireland in the three months from October - December 2018 compared to the 4572 patients who did so in the three months from October - December 2017. This is a year on year increase of 33%. 

“Despite our Department of Health ‘transforming’ health and social care since at least 2011 the situation continues to deteriorate, with patients and staff continuing to await tangible improvement at the coal face. 

“While the latest announcement of £3 million to support ‘winter pressures’ is welcome, it is disappointing that yet again funding is being drip fed into the system so late in the day as to make it nigh on impossible to deliver optimal mitigation of the unprecedented risks to quality of care and patient safety. Planning for the inevitable seasonal variation in demand needs to be formulated, finalised, funded and delivered earlier in the year. 

“However, beyond this, there continues to be a requirement for corrective investment to increase staffing, the number of acute hospital beds and the social care that are fundamentally required to meet the health and social care needs of our growing and ageing population”.