Give us your feedback on this website

Mobile Navigation Icon Mobile Search Icon

Skip to nav | Font Size: A A A | High Contrast

Helpline: 0800 917 0222


Home > Latest > Blog > Pressures on Emergency Departments

Filed in:




Pressures on Emergency Departments

Maeve Hully, Chief Executive

Over the past few weeks, you might have experience of visiting a very busy hospital Emergency Department, or heard about the pressures facing our Health service on the news. Why is this happening?

The Health and Social Care Board says the number of people attending Emergency Departments has risen by 24% (3,039 patients) since 2013/14 for the Christmas and New Year holiday period.

They have produced information for patients on why our Emergency Departments come under pressure so much around this time of year. Having this information available is useful, so we can all better understand our Health and Social Care system here, and what we can do to help ourselves and go to the right place for care.

There are a range of alternative services that people can access if they do not need emergency care. These include using the online A-Z symptom checker, seeking advice from a pharmacist, going to a Minor Injury Unit, or contacting a GP or the GP Out of Hours services (if their medical condition can’t wait until the GP surgery reopens). People can also check the average waiting times in their local Emergency Department

The Patient and Client Council Care when I need it report shows how much people value the work done by health care staff providing treatment.  It’s anticipated that Emergency Departments and other urgent care services will continue to face pressures in the time ahead, as are other areas in the UK and Ireland.

Many people try to make the right choices, but with challenges like long call backs for GP Out of Hours, and limited opening hours in surgeries and minor injury units they end up with no other option than attending Emergency Departments. For many, an increased wait, is an increased worry.

There is lots of work going on to find solutions to the issues facing Emergency Departments in Northern Ireland. What many people agree on is the need for overall transformation of the whole Health and Social Care system.

What’s been your experience of accessing Health and Social Care over the past few weeks? What do you think needs to happen to help reduce pressures on our Emergency Departments?

Add your comment

Your name will be published on the website


Your email address will not be published on the website

Enter the total of the sum above.

Peter Martin 14 Jan 2018 16:12

Although I did not have to visit any emergency department in Northern Ireland recently I was in Glasgow on Wednesday 20th December and had occasion to attend Glasgow Royal Infirmary A&E department, I arrived at 2.10pm and was treated and left the hospital at 2.30pm after treatment. I was very impressed with the speed and efficiency of the service I received and how well everything was organized and there was about 10 to 12 other people waiting for treatment as well as myself.

E.Murphy 14 Jan 2018 00:47

Yes I would agree that something clearly needs to change to take the immense pressure off the emergency services. But I am very sceptical about the word transformation. Change is certainly needed but I would be more concerned about why this crisis is occurring in the first place.
Why are we needing more care at the point of crisis? I am fed up with hearing that this is because of the growing older population because the follow up question should then be.. why are there so many sick older people?
I think there should be more done to educate and support people in our community to live healthier lifestyles. More funding towards local health promotion services. Funding for social groups to enable people to develop a more positive outlook, combat lonliness and perhaps give them an opportunity to discuss their concerns and learn how to deal with them before they become a crisis. This, I’m afraid is a more long term solution, but the A&E crisis has not occurred overnight.

Seamus Curley 13 Jan 2018 20:56

Over the last year I have visited the Hospital (Altnagelvin ) on quite a few occasions and was well cared for by an excellent medical professional team although I could see that they were stressed out by the pressure of work.
Having finished their ten hour shift . often without a break,they then drove home and I wondered how safe that journey was after a tiring day.
A lorry or bus driver would never be allowed on the road without having a statuary rest period.
I feel that the present Government's Austerity policies .and their present Privatisation stance is destroying our NHS and that campaign groups are not doing enough to save our publicly owned health care system

Raymond Hynes 12 Jan 2018 21:12

Unfortunately due to angina problems I have had to attend A&E department, Ulster Hospital on a number of occasions, the last being just before Christmas. There were nearly 100 patients in A&E with over 30 awaiting admission to hospital. The staff were magnificent and professional under severe pressure. I thank God for their care and dedication.

Allison 12 Jan 2018 19:36

I feel I must give my honest opinion regarding the state of the NHS. As a nurse who trained in the early seventies I see such a change in the NHS services. We all ask what has changed over the years, well obviously everyone blames an ageing population, but my opinion whether accepted or not is as well as older people living longer we have had such an influx of immigrants over the years and government have not made any extra allowances, instead they have closed brilliant hospitals such as Whiteabbey and others with such rise in population, any wonder it is bursting at the seams. This is not a pop at immigrants if they are in work and pay taxes they have as much right to UK NHS as anyone else. I only know that when I am in my local health centre approx 50% of the patients speak in a foreign language, I have received reports from my friends who say its the same in their GP surgeries and A&Es; I firmly believe that there should be a charge to see a GP who in return must spend more time and effort in making a diagnosis, in order to relieve the hospitals which should only be used in severe cases and needy cases. Anyone who does not turn up for an appointment GP or Hospital without notifiying should be charged and finally and very importantly Prescription charges MUST be brought back, even £2 per item which is affordable and people would think twice before ordering endless amounts of medicines which are not always used. It is outrageous the needless waste of drugs just because they are free. I believe that those who are gluten intolerant should not be prescribed gluten endless amounts of free products. Years ago patients had to make do themselves and they managed!
The NHS needs to be be much more productive and less
wastefull if some of these measures were put in place just imagine how usefull the extra revenue would be.
I feel very passionately regarding our NHS it is a wonderful organisation and we are all so very luckyto have access to it, but unfortunately anything that is free is usually abused and we need stronger, cleverer leaders and that definately does not include Jeremy Hunt who continues to smile sweetly at the cameras and do very little constructively.
Please put Mr Gerry Robinson in charge of the NHS and he would turn it around in less than a year. I remember watching his TV documentaries on the NHS years ago and I thought his ideas were sensible and effective.

charlie lynn 12 Jan 2018 19:26

So sorry to say this but I am completely convinced the present government are going to dismantle the already failing NHS. Only people with lots of money need apply.

julie 12 Jan 2018 17:39

First of all the staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital, where amazing as always, but more so because of the pressure they where under, we waited 6 1/2 hrs before they decided they where keeping my elderly mother, who was taken in by emergency ambulance. There really needs to be something done about the way the paramedics, are tied up for so long waiting to hand patience's over to medical staff, at 1 point all of the 7 crews that cover, the whole of Belfast, where stood waiting in the corridor. 18 hour my mother spent on a trolley, before getting a bed. There where people there getting seen to before other, because the police had brought them in, I personally think if the GPS had more appointments for their patients, it might cut down a bit on our A&E departments, as people cant get to see their GPS so just taking the alternative and going to A&E. I also think that we should be like other countries, where if you are not a resident you must produce health insurance I think some people need to be patient and show our health works respect. You really get your eyes opened when you have to attend these places, we would be lost without them