Delays 'inevitable' at Emergency Department

LOCAL people have again been warned that the Emergency Department at Antrim Area Hospital is ‘extremely busy’.

The Northern Trust took to social media on Monday to warn that EDs at both Antrim Area and Causeway Hospital in Coleraine ‘are extremely busy’.

People were told that there was: “... a considerable number of people awaiting beds.

“Delays are inevitable, we apologise for this.”

Over the past weekend, a number of health trusts across Northern Ireland appealed for people to stay away except in cases of medical emergency, citing ‘extreme pressure’ on their departments.

With ED attendance now back to pre-covid levels, it is thought that the Bank Holiday has been adding to the problem, with more people out and about and exposing themselves to accidents or injuries, as well as the existing issues with the coronavirus and the knock-on impact on waiting lists and treatments.

It also emerged last week that the number of beds in Antrim’s Intensive Care Unit has dropped, as work continues on a new £2.38m facility which it is hoped will be able to care for 10 patients with the capacity to increase to 13 in case of surges.

Chief Executive Jennifer Welsh revealed: “Work is going well during a particularly challenging phase given we are having to temporarily reduce the number of beds on site to allow for work ongoing.”

She added that contractors are working hard to reduce the period from four weeks to three and are now halfway through the project.

Ms Welsh has previously warned that the hospital will face significant pressures this winter.

Late last year the Trust launched the Phone First service, which is designed for patients, including children, who are feeling unwell and considering travelling to an Emergency Department or Minor Injuries Unit with an injury or illness which requires urgent treatment but is not immediately life threatening.

Callers are clinically assessed and arrangements made to access the most appropriate service.

This may mean offering an appointment at the Emergency Department or Minor Injuries Unit, organising further investigations or redirecting you to a local GP or GP Out of Hours service.

The Northern Trust ‘Phone First’ operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week on 0300 123 1 123

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