‘Only use A&E in serious cases’ urges hospital

The Southern Trust is urging the public to only use Craigavon’s Emergency Department if they have serious and urgent conditions, as the busy winter period nears.

Interim director of acute services Debbie Burns said that during the coming months, it will be much more difficult to keep waiting times in the department to a minimum.

She said, “Our hospitals get much busier as higher numbers (than normal) of very sick and often elderly patients with respiratory/flu-related and other conditions are admitted to hospital.

These patients often have to stay in hospital for longer than normal.

“There will always be peak busy times in any year when there are ‘spikes’ in demand for hospital beds. This sudden increased demand for hospital beds impacts on Emergency Departments as it can take longer to admit patients to wards - leading to longer waiting times for people arriving in the Emergency Department.”

She added, “At challenging times like this, when we have high patient occupancy and activity levels, contingency plans are put in place across the hospital including bringing in extra staff and opening up additional beds but even with these extra measures and despite the best efforts of staff, delays are sometimes unavoidable.”

She said people with minor injuries should avail of other services such as Minor Injuries, GP or GP Out of Hours and pharmacies.

Recent waiting time statistics show that the trust’s ED departments at Craigavon and Daisy Hill hospitals had almost 31,000 attendances between July and September. Eighty-three per cent were seen and treated within four hours and nobody waited longer than 12 hours.