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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

Northern Trust sees highest increase in attendance at EDs due to “aging population”

Emerhency Department at Antrim Area Hospital

A “significant increase” in patients attending hospital emergency departments (EDs) in the Northern Health and Social Care Trust could be due to an ageing population, board members have been told.

Presenting a Service Delivery Plan, Neil Martin, divisional director of strategic planning, performance and ICT, told members at a meeting in Antrim Hospital, on Thursday morning, the target for the number of people waiting more than 12 hours has been missed by ten per cent.

Board member Glenn Houston, a non-executive director, noted “an increased volume” of patients attending EDs in the Northern Trust and also commented on a ten per cent increase in out-patient referrals.

“In terms of numbers waiting more than 52 weeks, this figure has increased since September 2023.”

He asked if patients are referred solely by GPs and if a patient awaiting an appointment but comes to ED with “an acute presentation”, would “come off” the patient waiting list.

Mr Martin said most referrals to out-patients come from GPs. However, he indicated some are made by the Action Cancer charity following a screening appointment.

He went on to say a patient would not be removed from an out-patient list automatically following an unscheduled attendance at ED.

Mr Houston went on to ask why there has been a ten per cent increase in patients attending ED in the Northern Trust area, describing the rise as “significant”.

Mr Martin suggested it may be related to an increase in the elderly population, noting that the Northern Trust has the biggest older population in Northern Ireland.

He went on to say “other Trusts are seeing an increase but not to the extent that we are”. “It is our particular demographic,” he added.


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