Patients had to wait over 12 hours for emergency care

The Emergency Department at South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen

The Emergency Department at South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen

THE long waiting lists at the South West Acute Hospital Emergency Department are causing serious concern among staff and patients.
Figures released recently show that over the Christmas and New Year period 33 patients faced waiting times of at least 12 hours before receiving emergency attention.
The Western Trust has set a waiting time target of four hours to be seen by a doctor.
Raymond Farrell, pictured below, said that for someone who was suffering pain and distress physically and emotionally, it was just too long.
“As in most years this was a busy time. But this time there was the added pressure on hospital services and AD services in particular,” said Mr Farrell.
“There was a situation where some GP services timetables were just not the same. People then resorted to go to A&E and that had a part to play also. In this significant period there was a lot of illness in the community in terms of respiratory illness and flu and these had a significant bearing  on the services provided in hospital,” he added.
Mr Farrell said the staff at SWAH had been working flat out in ED and other wards.
“They were absolutely flat to the mat,” he declared. “And I have to pay tribute to them. Passing through different departments myself daily I saw how busy the staff have been in the last while.”
“There are pressures all over but locally we have to get something out of the Minister’s health review. We must move the health service forward and not have these excessive waiting times,” stressed Mr Farrell.
“We must make a real effort to address the shortages of doctors and specialists and that they are spread evenly throughout the province,” he said.
Fermanagh and South Tyrone MLA Rosemary Barton said that waiting for 12 hours before receiving treatment was not acceptable.
Recognising the strain on staff she appreciated that many had worked overtime in recent weeks.
“We must all  sympathise that these pressures on the health and social care system fall on their overburdened shoulders,” she said.
A spokesman for the Health and Social Care Board said: “Plans have been put in place across the Health and Social Care system to manage increased demand at this time of year.
“Some patients have had to wait more than 12 hours to be admitted to hospital. We fully understand the distress and inconvenience this causes to patients and their families and apologise to them for it.”

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