The Minister said: “These figures are simply not good enough. The people of Northern Ireland deserve better. I have written to the chief executives of each of the Trusts, requesting detailed assessments of the situation.
“We all owe a debt of gratitude to the staff who continue to work through these pressures however we need to fix things for their sake as well as for patients. I fully recognise that there are no quick or easy solutions. As with other parts of the health service, sustained investment is required alongside reforms to the way services are delivered.
“One of the key issues is the increasing number of older people attending Emergency Departments and experiencing long waits, many of whom will require hospital admission. As a society, we have to find better ways of looking after our frail elderly citizens when they need hospital care.
“Another priority is the development of community services to facilitate discharges of patients who are well enough to leave hospital. This is in the best interests of the patients and will also alleviate pressure in EDs and throughout the system. This will require investment in the social care workforce."
In conclusion, the Minister said: “Looking to the longer-term, I welcome the fact that the Department is progressing a clinically-led review of urgent and emergency care, with a view to transforming services. An initial report is expected shortly, which will outline the current challenges and explore some potential solutions.”
Notes to editors:
- Emergency care waiting times statistics can be found on the DoH website.
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