Officials Apologise As A&E Waiting Times Grow

Health officials have apologised after over 25,000 people waited more than 12 hours for treatment at Emergency Departments in Northern Ireland last year.

Figures released by the Department of Health (DoH) today reveal that of the 822,846 patients who attended A&E, 25,326 of them waited longer than 12 hours to be either admitted or treated and discharged home.

Officials said the growing numbers of people waiting too long highlights the need for a revised model of care.

The amount of people faced with the same wait in the previous year was totalled at 17,347, with the highest increases recorded at the Ulster and Craigavon hospitals.

The issue can be seen to have grown steadily over recent years, with numbers waiting over 12 hours increasing markedly from 3,170 in 2014/15. Performance against the four hour waiting time target in the last five years also declined by 7.6% from 77.5% to 69.9%.
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Addressing the statistics, the DoH said it is a stark illustration of the pressures facing Emergency Departments and the wider health and social care system.

The statement reads: "We must again apologise to the significant and growing numbers of patients who have been waiting too long in our EDs.

"Clearly, the current model of care – the way we organise urgent and emergency services together with the flow of patients through our hospitals from admission to discharge – needs to change.

"Demand for care continues to increase and pressures traditionally experienced at winter time are now present throughout the year."

A health service summit, organised as part of the Department's ongoing review into urgent and emergency care, will be held on Tuesday 25 June. 160 people representing clinicians, patients and the health and social care sector will confer to help shape a public consultation planned for later this year.


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