Waiting Times For A&E Reduced

Waiting times for patients in NI's accident and emergency care facilities have been revealed.

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety (DHSSPS) has just published statistics on the time spent waiting in emergency care departments within Northern Ireland during the months of January, February and March 2011.

The key findings show that in March, 82.0% of patients were either treated and discharged or admitted within four hours of their arrival in an emergency care department, compared to 76.4% in February and 77.5% in January.

Also on the plus side, just 850 patients waited longer than 12 hours across all emergency care departments in March, compared to 1,338 in February and 1,236 in January this year.

The statistical bulletin presents information on all new and unplanned review attendances and also details the monthly performance of each HSC Trust and Hospital against the DHSSPS Priorities for Action waiting time target for emergency care departments.

Numbers of patients are up, with a total of 61,128 attendances at emergency care departments for the month of March, compared with 52,921 in February and 56,476 in January.

The figures also showed that, during March, 79.3% of attendances at 'Type 1 emergency care departments were treated and discharged, or admitted within four hours of their arrival, compared with 73.2% in February and 74.1% in January.
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The information is collected monthly using the Emergency Care information return that records all new and unplanned review attendances in each emergency care department across Northern Ireland.

Time is measured from when a patient arrives at the emergency care department (time of arrival is recorded at registration or triage whichever is earlier) until the patient departs from the emergency care department, defined as when the patient's clinical care episode is completed within the emergency care department.

There are three separate categories of emergency care facility included in the data. Type 1 Emergency Care Department is a consultant-led service with designated accommodation for the reception of emergency care patients, providing both emergency medicine and emergency surgical services on a round the clock basis.

Type 2 Emergency Care Department is a consultant-led service with designated accommodation for the reception of emergency care patients, but which does not provide both emergency medicine and emergency surgical services and/or has time-limited opening hours.

The other is Type 3 Emergency Care Department, classed as a minor injury unit with designated accommodation for the reception of patients with a minor injury and/or illness. It may be doctor or nurse-led. A defining characteristic of this service is that it treats at least minor injuries or illnesses and can be routinely accessed without appointment.


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