PRESSURE at Antrim Area Hospital is set to increase in the early days and weeks of 2019, the Northern Trust has admitted.
Already ‘extremely busy’ over the Christmas period, Trust top brass are already bracing themselves for an expected deluge as the New Year begins.
This admission comes only weeks after the Antrim Guardian reported on the sheer volumes of patients who were arriving at the Emergency Department and the exponential increase in the number of 12 hour breaches.
These figures related to July, August and September - long before the ‘busy winter spell’ - adding to fears that the ‘too small for purpose’ hospital would find itself flatlining over the colder months.
Frustrated ED staff warned people that the Department was ‘not a price comparison site’ as they urged people to consider whether they really needed to be seen there or whether another service would be more appropriate.
A spokesperson for the Northern Trust said that the Emergency Department has experienced ‘continued demand’ over Christmas and as January 1 approached.
They stressed that the implementation of their ‘Christmas and New Year resilience plan’ prior to December 25 helped them to ‘maintain capacity’ not just in the hospital but across community services too.
“The ED remains extremely busy and we anticipate demand to increase over the New Year period as winter pressures continue to build in the next few days and in coming weeks,” he explained.
“The Trust would like to remind the public to use health services appropriately and to only go to ED if a condition is urgent or life threatening.
“Emergency Departments are there to provide treatment for the most serious cases that need emergency care.
“If someone has a condition that is not urgent or life threatening, they should always consider using alternative services to ED such as a Minor Injuries Unit, their GP/GP Out of hours services or pharmacy.
“We are extremely grateful to all those staff who have been working over the festive period to support people across the community and in our hospitals.”
Chief Executive of the Trust, Tony Stevens, reiterated his personal praise for the hardworking staff.
“I know I speak for Trust Board and the entire organisation in thanking you for your dedication and commitment,” he said.
“I want to take the opportunity to wish everyone a Happy New Year.
“ I hope everyone has the chance to relax and enjoy this time with their loved ones.
“I also offer my personal thanks to all staff for their hard work throughout 2018.
No matter what role you have in the Northern Trust, you make a real and meaningful difference to people's lives and I am really proud to call myself your Chief Executive.”
The year ahead will undoubtedly bring new challenges for us all, but I am confident that we have the staff, the skills and the resilience to rise to those challenges.”