Emergency waiting times have doubled

Waiting times have improved at the Royal Victoria Hospital
Waiting times have improved at the Royal Victoria Hospital

The number of patients waiting for over 12 hours at emergency departments in Northern Ireland has more than doubled in a year.

Statistics from the Department of Health show that 288 people here waited more than 12 hours for treatment, compared with 125 in November 2014.

The figures vary widely between hospitals in Northern Ireland.

At the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast, figures improved significantly. Only three people were recorded as waiting more than 12 hours, compared with 79 the year before.

But the numbers show that Antrim Area Hospital’s waiting times have deteriorated, from 13 last year to 170 in 2015.

At the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald, numbers jumped from three in 2014 to 93 last month.

The Health and Social Care Board said it was working with the trusts to provide better emergency care services over the winter months.

The board said it has invested more than £10m to improve patient flow, as well as the development of minor injury streams in all emergency departments.

It said that while it was unacceptable that anyone had to wait more than 12 hours, steady progress had been made to reduce waiting times since 2011/12 when over 10,000 people waited more than 12 hours.

The board added that individual trusts, including the Belfast trust, had made improvements to waiting times.