RCEM Northern Ireland: “There is a pressing need for change”

23 July 2020

Figures released today by the Department of Health Northern Ireland show that long waits are, once again, on the rise. 
Data for the first quarter of this year (April-June 2020) show that only 68.3% of patients attending Type 1 (major) Emergency Departments were seen, treated, and discharged or admitted to hospital within four hours of their arrival.
In the first quarter of this year, 2891 patients spent more than 12 hours in Emergency Departments. This is a significant decrease when compared to the first quarter of 2019. However, this is the result of a decrease in usual attendance figures (30% less compared to the same quarter in 2019) due to COVID-19. Despite this, we are beginning to see numbers rise again with a 124% increase in 12 hour waits from May to June 2020.
Dr Paul Kerr, Vice President of the Royal College of Emergency Medicine Northern Ireland said: “There is a pressing need for change if we are going to avoid returning to the dangerously crowded emergency departments we experienced pre-COVID.
“It is deeply concerning that the number of patients waiting more than 12 hours is already rising dramatically in some trusts; in a world where we are going to have to treat and manage patients alongside the coronavirus, this is simply unacceptable.
“The resetting and redesigning of emergency departments will play an integral role in ensuring that patients are receiving the best care in the appropriate setting while also reducing crowding in our departments.”