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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

“Fit to sit” strategy for ambulance arrivals while attendance at Antrim & Causeway continues to rise

Antrim Area Hospital Emergency Department

Ambulance patients who are “fit to sit” are being brought into hospital waiting rooms to await treatment, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust board has been told.


Speaking at a meeting of the board on Thursday, Audrey Harris, the Trust’s divisional director medicine and emergency medicine, explained: 


“If we are under extreme pressure, we have taken a very focused approach to ambulance arrivals.


“Arrivals in an ambulance will be triaged like everybody else,” she stated.



She indicated that some patients may be transferred to sit in the hospital waiting room. She reported a “significant improvement” in patient handover times since March.


“The crew will book the patient in and go,” she said.


She stressed that although primary care is under pressure, ED “does not turn anybody away”.


“Never. Everybody is triaged,” she stressed.



According to Department of Health figures, 8,609 patients attended the Emergency Department at Antrim Hospital in March compared to 7,881 in March last year.


At Causeway Hospital, Coleraine, 4,084 patients came to casualty in March compared to 3,956 in March 2022.


Board members heard that waiting times at Antrim and Causeway Hospitals have risen by ten per cent and three per cent respectively.



Audrey Harris also reported developments at Antrim Hospital which include the opening of a 24-bed ward in March and a new waiting area in ED. A second new ward is expected to open at Antrim Hospital at the end of June which she believes may improve waiting times.


Jennifer Welsh, the Northern Trust’s chief executive, commented: “Attendance is down and ambulance arrivals are down at regional level but this is not the case in the Northern Trust. Our attendance has gone up.”

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