The Department of Health has praised the sustained and ongoing work across the health and social care system to mitigate winter pressures.
Health services remain under serious stress in Northern Ireland and neighbouring jurisdictions. Measures in response to the pressures include a focus on reducing ambulance turnaround times outside hospital Emergency Departments.
Management information for January 2023 shows the progress that has been achieved on this front in recent weeks.
In the first week of January (1st to 7th), and the last week of December (25th to 31st), one in six ambulances had turnaround times of over three hours.
This fell steadily over the course of January and by the week 22nd to 28th January, it was down to one in 40.
This has freed up significant numbers of ambulances to respond more quickly to calls in the community. Compared to October - December 2022, the equivalent of close to five crew shifts have been freed up per day since 8 January.
Department of Health Permanent Secretary Peter May said:
“I want to again pay tribute to the Herculean efforts at all levels of the health and social care system. The improvements in ambulance turnaround times are both timely and very welcome and will help ensure our vital ambulances are where they are needed – responding to urgent calls in the community.
“I know Trusts will want to build on the progress to date and have committed to seeking to reduce the three hour limit.
“Pressure on services remains significant and I would again appeal to the public to play its part in helping the system get through winter. This includes using services appropriately and cooperating fully with hospital discharge processes.”
The Department last month set out the longer-term actions required to put the health and social care system on a more sustainable footing, this is available on the Department of Health website.