Ulster A&E waiting times worsen during ‘difficult’ winter period

A&E waiting times worsen
A&E waiting times worsen

People spent longer waiting to be seen at Northern Ireland’s A&E departments last month with hospitals failing to meet national guidelines.

Despite a recommendation that 95 per cent of patients are seen within four hours, only 76.6 per cent attending the Province’s emergency rooms were treated in accordance with that target.

The local performance lags well behind the 90.2 per cent in England during what has been described as the most difficult winter in years.

Wales also experienced a drop in performance with 81 per cent of patients being seen within four hours.

Figures published last week showed waiting times across the UK were the longest in a decade.

Data for Scotland lags some way behind the rest of the UK - the latest comprehensive data is from September - although interim figures show hospitals are struggling there too.

The release of weekly figures followed the publication of draft guidelines from the National Institute for Health and Care Excellence (Nice) on the number of nurses required in A&E units.

The organisation said there should be enough nursing staff on duty to have one nurse for every four cubicles but two registered nurses to one patient in cases of major trauma or cardiac arrest, and there should also be a registered children’s nurse on each shift as well as an A&E children’s specialist.

Because demand in A&E can change rapidly, the guidelines recommend that departments, in planning, should allow for enough nursing staff to care for higher than the average number of patients who attend the department on a daily basis.

The chief executive and general secretary of the Royal College of Nursing, Dr Peter Carter has called for thousands more staff should be recruited for A&E departments.