THE Department of Health says it urgently needs public support for hospital discharges.
The body spoke out after it was revealed that Antrim Area Hospital’s Emergency Department was ‘at capacity’.
A spokesperson for the Northern Trust said on Tuesday: “The Emergency Department at Antrim Area Hospital is at full capacity.
“As of 8.30am this morning there were 94 people in the ED with 66 awaiting a bed.
“We are asking people not to attend unless their condition is urgent or life threatening and to use alternative services.
“To help us free up beds, we also need patients who are fit for discharge to accept placements that are immediately available.”
Now a new appeal has been issued from the Department of Health, which has said: “Timely discharge from hospitals will help our health service deal with severe and ongoing pressures.
“Staff continue to do their best to provide hospital care to all those who need it.
“Hospital patients and their families can play their part by supporting timely discharge - helping to free up much needed beds.
“The service is currently under severe pressure with demand on hospital services escalating over the past few days.
“All of our hospitals are working beyond capacity at present with many very ill patients waiting for hospital beds.
“The essential co-operation of patients, and their families and carers on discharge, will help free up beds during this extremely challenging time.”
To help free up essential beds, required for very sick patients, the Health and Social Care Trust is sending out an urgent appeal to patients and families:
- If patients are deemed medically fit by the consultant/senior doctor to go home, they and their families should ensure there are arrangements in place to be picked up promptly on the day of discharge. Medical and nursing teams can help you make these arrangements.
- If patients are deemed medically fit by the consultant/senior doctor to go home and are waiting on a care home placement, HSC Trust staff will allocate the first place that is suitable for you. This may not necessarily be your first choice but it is important to note that HSC Trusts will work closely with you to move your family member to your first choice at a later date.
- If you are deemed medically fit by the consultant/senior doctor to go home, and there is a delay in sourcing new or additional home care (domiciliary care), you may be discharged and these elements of your care package will be organised when you get home.
Additional family support may be required until the home care package is finalised.
- Agreeing to discharge rather than remaining in hospital will not disadvantage you and does not mean you have to wait longer for your domiciliary care package.
The statement concluded: “Staff are continuing to work hard to ensure that patients receive the treatment and care that they need.
“To help them, we are asking that patients do not remain in hospital any longer than necessary and we also need families to provide transport to transfer loved ones from the hospital in a timely manner when required.
“The HSC system is in very challenging times and we are asking you to help us so we can help others who are very ill and need a hospital bed.
“Put simply, we need your support urgently.”