Despite the closure of two Accident and Emergency (A&E) departments at the weekend, the most extreme waiting times were actually down on the same time last year.
That is according to the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) which yesterday said that on the Saturday and Sunday – compared with the same weekend in 2013 – there was a 79 per cent drop in the number of patients waiting for 12-plus hours to be seen in A&E departments across Northern Ireland.
That is despite the closure of both the Downe and Lagan Valley hospitals’ A&Es, which kicked in for the first time on January 4, due to staffing problems at both sites.
Staff shortages have meant that during weekdays the two A&E departments will only be open from 8am to 8pm, and will not open at all at weekends.
Any weekend emergencies have to be dealt with at other hospitals.
The HSCB said it had laid on extra nurses at other A&Es across the Province, as well as additional beds, to cope with the upsurge in patients from the Downe and Lagan Valley areas.