ED waiting times surged in past year

WHILE waiting times from presentation to admission have increased slightly over the past year, there has been a significant increase at Altnagelvin.

Figures for emergency department (ED) waiting times for December 2023 were released by the Department of Health last week.

The figures showed an median wait of 14 hours, 19 minutes from presentation to treatment across the North, an increase from 13 hours, 57 minutes at the same time last year.


Locally, the SWAH had one of the lowest median waiting times from ED to admission, at 12 hours, 39 minutes, up slightly from 12 hours, 23 minutes last year.

While that was the median waiting time, the longest waits faced by patients waiting admission to the SWAH from its ED was 47 hours, 42 minutes, up from 46 hours, 57 minutes last year.

However, the biggest jump has been seen at Altnagelvin Hospital, where the median waiting time from ED presentation to hospital admission was 21 hours, 52 minutes, up from 19 hours, 58 minutes the previous December. That was the highest in the North.

The longest waits recorded were 70 hours, 47 minutes, up significantly from last year when they were 45 hours, 53 minutes.

As pointed out by campaign group Save Our Acute Services (SOAS) this week, the huge increase is believed to be due to the influx of patients from SWAH being sent to Altnagelvin for surgery or surgical assessment.

Since the removal of the emergency general surgery from the SWAH patients sent from Enniskillen to Derry for surgery or surgical treatment are being treated as new ‘walk ins’ at Altnagelvin ED, and are being asked to rejoin the queue there, meaning they are facing two long ED waits.

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