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Northern ED waits
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More than 100 patients have attended the emergency department at Antrim Hospital some days this month, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust board has been told.

Speaking at a meeting on Thursday morning, Neil Martin, the Trust’s Interim Divisional Director of Strategic Development, reported a “very high” number of 12-hour waits in casualty at the hospital during the past two months.

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Mr Martin said that there has been an average of 90 patients in attendance at the casualty department at Antrim Hospital daily this month and “well over 100”, some days.

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At noon today (January 27), there were 111 people waiting in the Emergency Departments at Antrim and Causeway Hospitals and 50 patients waiting for a bed.

At Antrim Hospital, 38 people were waiting in the department for more than 12 hours; 35 up to four hours; four waiting between four and eight hours and three people waiting between eight and 12 hours.

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At Causeway Hospital, eight patients were waiting more than 12 hours; 20  were waiting up to four hours; two people waiting between four and eight hours and one patient waiting between eight to 12 hours.

A total of 378 were in attendance at Antrim and Causeway Hospitals’ emergency departments between midnight on January 25 and midnight on January 26.

Between January 14 until January 20, 1,647 people attended the Emergency Department at Antrim Hospital where 169 waited more than 12 hours.

At Causeway, 762 were in attendance during these dates with 17 waiting more than 12 hours.

Audrey Harris, Interim Director of Medicine and Emergency Medicine, told the meeting that “it is not always about ED”.

Other factors affecting waiting times, she explained, include patient discharge rates although these have improved since December.

She indicated that these has been affected by the staffing situation in the care home sector and patients with complex needs who need “one-to-one” care.

She also reported an increase in patients aged over 75 years old and those from care home in the Trust’s Emergency Departments.

In addition, she noted that Covid positive patients can’t return home and families affected by Covid have had an impact.

She also spoke of the implications of isolation of Covid patients and social distancing of beds in hospitals.

She underlined the need to manage patients “appropriately and safely”.

“It is still really difficult and the pressures are still there.”

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