Rogers Says Waiting Times at Ulster Hospital are Unacceptable
Mr Rogers said: “I remain disgusted, but not shocked, that some Paramedics had waiting times of more than four hours to admit patients to A& E at the Ulster Hospital last week.
“The Health Service in the North of Ireland is in disarray. Obviously given the closure of the Accident and Emergency Unit at the City Hospital and the night time closure of A& E at the Downe, this ripple effect was going to impact in such a big way on the delivery of service at Dundonald. Anyone who thought any different was not living in the real world. It is clear that the Ulster does not have enough beds to cope with the demand.
“I am pleased that these Paramedics were willing to whistle blow and had the courage to do so. However it further reinforces the severity of the situation. These individuals who perform an extremely caring and lifesaving role have grave concerns in respect of the operational running of this hospital.
“I share the concerns and the frustrations of the Ambulance Service, and for the Minister with responsibility for Health to say that “Patient Safety was not compromised” is very foolish. When ambulances and paramedics are queuing at the doors of the Ulster, they are not fit to respond to life or death calls – that is a fact.
“Given the hard work and dedication of my SDLP colleagues in the campaign for the new Downe Hospital over the years, these headlines are even more difficult to stomach. Downpatrick has a state of the art – purpose built facility that is not being used as it was intended. It is time that the Minister went back to the drawing board and reopened both of these departments on a full time basis,” added Mr Rogers.
South Eastern HSC Trust Respond Over Waiting Time Claims
A spokesperson for the South Eastern HSC Trust has presented a different view of the controversy around the ED admissions to the Ulster Hospital and said: “Over the past two years there has been a substantial increase in the numbers of patients presenting to the Ulster Hospital Emergency Department (ED) with a 22% increase in the number of emergency admissions.
“Our staff have responded magnificently to this increase but despite their best efforts the scale of the increase has been significantly higher than the capacity we have within the hospital. The number of ambulances arriving at the Ulster Hospital has increased year on year over the past five years with a 30% overall increase and a 12% increase from 2011 to 2012.
“This most recent increase has been extraordinary to say the least with 2,257 more ambulances arriving last year. Remarkably, our staff have actually increased the number of ambulances turned around within one hour from 18,142 in 2011 to 19,686 in 2012 – an extra 1,544 ambulances turned around in under an hour. This is an incredible achievement in the face of tremendous pressure at the Emergency Department.
“In 2012 there were actually more ambulances turned around in one hour than the total ambulances turned around in each of the previous four years. Unfortunately, this incredible achievement by our staff has not been acknowledged. In addition, the Trust would point out that the Ulster ED team has made fantastic progress in respect of the number of ambulance patients being assessed within 15 minutes of arrival. This clinical standard is an important quality indicator set down by the College of Emergency Medicine and the Ulster ED has excelled at meeting this standard.
“The Downe ED is not recognised for junior doctor training and therefore any increase in junior doctors would not provide any additional doctors to the Downe Emergency Department. There is a UK wide shortage of ED doctors and this shortage led to the decision to reduce the opening hours of the Downe ED and the establishment of the enhanced GP out of hours service. The new service is working extremely well, accommodating over 97% of users from the area.”