Less than half SWAH emergency patients seen within 4hrs

THE number of patients who had to wait more than 12 hours to be seen at the SWAH Emergency Department (ED) has increased dramatically this winter.  
While there was also an increase in the number of people attending ED, the Western Trust has said the reason for the growing waiting times has been due to the increasing “urgency and complexity” of patients’ conditions, compounded by “challenges” in community care. 
Last year, between December 20th and January 20th, of the 1,482 people who attended the local ED, only 16 waited more than 12 hours. Of the 1,561 people who attended over the same period this year, 143 were waiting more than 12 hours. 
The number of patients waiting more than four hours has also jumped. Last year 68 percent those who attended SWAH ED were seen within four hours. This year that had fallen to 48 percent. 
A spokesman said the ED had been “extremely busy” in recent weeks, but had also seen “an increase in the urgency and complexity of presenting patients.”
“These patients will often require longer in-patient stays and then more complex social care packages when they are ready to leave hospital,” said the spokesman, who added issues elsewhere in the local health service had been essentially having a knock-on effect. 
 “There were also fewer adult patients discharged from the hospital with more admissions than there were discharges. This highlights the pressures on community services and the limited availability of community packages over the holiday period to allow patients to be discharged from hospital. 
The spokesman added, “Staff are working very hard to ensure all patients are treated in a timely manner. Some people who attend the Emergency Department may be required to wait longer than we would like and we sincerely apologise for this.”

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