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  • Writer's pictureMichelle Weir (Local Democracy Reporter)

‘Nothing surprising or unexpected’ – waiting times continue to rise across Northern Trust

Antrim Area Hospital

Waiting times for outpatient appointments have increased by 11 per cent during 2023/24, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust board has heard.


Presenting an end of year performance report at a board meeting, on Thursday morning, Neil Martin,  divisional director of strategic planning, performance and ICT, also told members during the last financial year, outpatient referrals have increased by ten per cent.



Mr Martin’s report for the recent 12-month period also indicated demand for general surgery was highest followed by ENT (Ears, Nose and Throat), dermatology and gynaecology specialities.


He also reported the longest wait for a “routine” surgery was 137 weeks for gastroenterology.


Moving on to emergency department waiting times, Mr Martin noted a six per cent increase at Antrim Hospital and Causeway Hospital in Coleraine during the 12-month period.



In the over-75 years age group, there was a 12 per cent increase in attendance at casualty in the Causeway Hospital. At Antrim Hospital, this rose by ten per cent.


Waits longer than 12 hours increased at Antrim Hospital by almost one fifth, 17 per cent and at Causeway Hospital, by five per cent, during the 12-month period.


A “snapshot” position of the number of patients in emergency departments at midday on Wednesday May 22 shows that 42 people had been waiting more than 12 hours at Antrim Hospital and 24 at Causeway.



In Antrim Hospital, 44 were waiting up to four hours; two were waiting between four and eight hours and one between eight and 12 hours. A total of 89 people were in waiting in the emergency department at the time,


At Causeway Hospital, 28 people were waiting up to four hours; three, between four and eight hours; four, eight to 12 hours, at noon that day when  there were 59 patients waiting in total.


At this time, there were 44 patients waiting for admission to a hospital bed in Antrim Hospital and 26 at Causeway.



Commenting on the annual report, Trust board chair Anne O’Reilly said:


“There is no surprise in that. Overall, there is nothing in the report that would surprise or be largely unexpected.”

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