Long Hospital Waits Double In One Year

The number of people left waiting longer than 12 hours in local Emergency Departments has more than doubled in the last year.

Official figures show that a total of 64,872 visits to A&E were made in December 2019.

Of these, some 5,280 people waited over 12 hours, accounting for 8.1% of all attendances throughout the month.

The figure is more than double that of the same period in 2018, when 1,991 people waited over 12 hours.

Government targets state that no patient attending any ED should be left waiting longer than 12 hours and that by March 2020, at least 80% of patients should have commenced treatment, following triage, within two hours.

Health minister Robin Swann said the waiting times are simply not good enough.
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"The people of Northern Ireland deserve better. I have written to the chief executives of each of the Trusts, requesting detailed assessments of the situation," he said.

"We all owe a debt of gratitude to the staff who continue to work through these pressures however we need to fix things for their sake as well as for patients.

"I fully recognise that there are no quick or easy solutions. As with other parts of the health service, sustained investment is required alongside reforms to the way services are delivered."

Areas to be addressed going forward, according to the Minister, include the long waits experienced by increasing amounts of elderly patients and the need for community discharge services to alleviate hospital pressures.

The full statistical bulletin for the last quarter of 2019 can be viewed online.


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