Increase in A&E waiting times slammed

ULSTER Unionist health spokesman Roy Beggs has criticised an increase in waiting times in the casualty department at Antrim Area Hospital.

Mr Beggs MLA reported that the number of patients being treated within the four-hour target has fallen by a further five per cent during the last three months.

In a statement, Mr Beggs said: “It is damning that the proportion of people being treated, discharged or admitted in Northern Ireland’s A&E units within four hours of their arrival has dropped by five per cent, from 76.8 per cent to 71.7 per cent, between October and December 2012.

“When you compare this to NHS hospitals in Scotland, where the figures for September 2012 show that 95 per cent of patients in A&E were seen within four hours, it is even more staggering.”

Mr. Beggs has called on Health Minister Edwin Poots to explain a dip, which he said, would be unacceptable in other parts of the United Kingdom.

He added: “Given the discomfort and risk that many patients face while waiting for their diagnosis, it is totally unacceptable that increasing amounts are being forced to wait more than four hours.

“The Ulster Unionist Party warned of the inadequate health budget and the adverse effects of closing A&E departments such as the one at the City Hospital. We are continuing to see the worrying results of such poorly judged decisions.

“The people of Northern Ireland deserve a health service that is fit for purpose. It is clear from the latest figures released by the Department of Health that Minister Poots has some explaining to do as to why essential treatment at our A&Es clearly does not meet patients’ requirements.”