Craigavon struggling to cope with record patient numbers

Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc
Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc

One in three local patients who attended their nearest Accident and Emergency Department were kept waiting for longer than they should have.

Latest figures from the Department of Health reveal that more patients are missing the four hour waiting time target at Craigavon Area Hospital.

In March, approximately one in three patients (35.2%) waited longer than the targeted four hour waiting time at Craigavon, which was the second worst figure in Northern Ireland, after Royal Victoria Hospital (38.4%).

Craigavon Area Emergency Department also reported the lowest percentage of patients commencing treatment within two hours of being triaged.

In addition, the report found that between March 2016 and March 2017, performance against the 12 hour target declined notably at Craigavon Area Hospital.

The figures make alarming news given the ongoing crisis Daisy Hill Hospital’s Emergency Departmentand an expected knock-on of patients for Craigavon.

The Southern Health Trust recently warned temporary overnight closures of Daisy Hill Hospital’s ED may be unavoidable due to staff shortages.

Daisy Hill Hospital’s 24-hour ED is extremely busy, dealing with more than 50,000 patients a year.

However, its inability to recruit permanent senior medical staff has left its services vulnerable at night.

Earlier this month, the trust confirmed it was making preparations to expand ED capacity at Craigavon Area Hospital in County Armagh.

However, the latest waiting time figures show that Craigavon Emergency Department is already dealing with an increase in patients, up from 7,205 in March 2016 to 7,422 in March 2017. The report also shows that in March of this year, a record number of patients attended Northern Ireland’s Emergency Departments. A spokesperson for the Southern Trust said that despite the additional pressures most patients were treated within four hours, and the Trust regretted the number of patients who had to wait longer.

“The average length of time patients waited to commence treatment in the Southern Trust was just over an hour”, he said. “Our staff worked tirelessly to ensure that the Emergency Department is operating in the most effective way possible but we need the public’s help to achieve this.

“People should only come to the Emergency Department if they have serious and urgent conditions.”