Department of Health Statement on Emergency Care Waiting Times

Date published: 24 October 2019

The latest statistics show a significant increase in the number of patients attending EDs compared to the same period in 2018.

ED waiting times

It is inevitable that demand for services will increase further over the winter period and, whilst additional measures will be put in place to address the need, it is anticipated that the months ahead will be extremely challenging for Emergency Departments and the dedicated staff who work there.

To help ensure limited services are used to best effect it is important the public understand how they should seek help. If you are seriously ill or injured, then the Emergency Department is the place to go, no matter how busy it may be.

If you attend an ED, you will be assessed – triaged – as quickly as possible, with the most urgent medical cases given the greatest priority. If you are not assessed as urgent you may have to wait for a lengthy period.

If you do not need emergency care, a range of alternative services is available.  These include using the online A-Z symptom checker, seeking advice from a pharmacist, going to a Minor Injury Unit, or contacting a GP or the GP Out of Hours services - if your medical condition can’t wait until the GP surgery reopens.

In the longer term, transforming the way services are accessed and delivered will be essential. A review of urgent and emergency care is making good progress and plans are in place to publish an initial report early in the New Year which will outline an analysis of the key challenges facing services and potential solutions.

Notes to editors: 

  1. For media enquiries please contact the Department of Health Press Office on 028 9052 0575 or email: . For out of hours please contact the Duty Press Officer on 028 9037 8110.
  2. Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt
  3. Online A-Z symptom checker.

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