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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Concern as no increase in ‘ambulances rocking up’ at hospitals but turnaround taking longer

Concern over the “turnaround” of ambulances at Northern Trust hospitals was reiterated at a meeting of the Northern Health and Social Care Trust on Thursday.

Trust board member Glenn Houston highlighted recent occurrence at Causeway Hospital, in Coleraine.

He described this performance as “a concerning position”.

Audrey Harris, the Trust’s Interim Director of Medicine and Emergency Medicine, told the meeting that attendance at Causeway’s emergency department has risen to more than 75 patients daily.

She reported “significant waits” in ED during the last few weeks.

“There is a lot of pressure on the Causeway site. Causeway ED has more limited space,” she explained.

“When Antrim is under pressure, that also affects Causeway. Causeway does not have the same ability to receive. It is a very challenging environment.

Board member Paul Corrigan commented:

“Ambulance arrivals have not increased year-on-year but when you look at Causeway turnaround times, these have been deteriorating over the last three to four months.

“There does not appear to be more ambulances rocking up at the back door of Antrim or Causeway.”

The interim director added: “Causeway is definitely absorbing some of the pressure from Antrim.

“We have just opened a second ambulance turnaround area in Antrim.

“None of us want patients waiting in the back of ambulances. We do triage them and begin treatment where we can.

“At times we can have eight all in a row. It is about managing demand. It is something we take very seriously. It is not something we find acceptable.”

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