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HSC continues to experience severe pressures on Emergency Departments

Urgent and Emergency Care - phone first information.

Emergency Departments across Northern Ireland continue to experience severe pressures today.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service also reports extreme pressures this evening. Please dial 999 in the event of an emergency, for life threatening conditions, only.

A spokesperson for the Health and Social Care system in Northern Ireland said:

“Whilst staff are continuing to work hard to ensure that patients receive the treatment and care that they need, it is regrettable that some people are having to wait longer to be treated in Emergency Departments, or to be admitted to hospital, than normal.

“If you have a life threatening condition or are seriously ill or injured then the Emergency Department is the appropriate place to go. On arrival at Emergency Departments all patients are assessed by a triage nurse and then dealt with in clinical priority. Patients who are most ill must be seen first. Patients not assessed as emergency cases are likely to have to wait for a long time. Also, the need to prevent crowding in our Emergency Departments remains a key priority in reducing the risk of Covid-19 transmission. Please do not attend unless you require emergency care.”

Patients and their families are being urged to support timely discharge from hospitals as our health service deals with escalating pressures in our EDs. There is a continued focus on supporting patients to return home or to a community setting as quickly as possible when their hospital treatment has been completed. For patients whose preferred place of care, or arrangement for care is not immediately available, an alternative interim arrangement will be facilitated. The essential co-operation of patients and their families/carers on discharge will help free up beds during this extremely challenging time.

For urgent care treatment that is not life threatening the ‘Phone First’ service, being trialed across the Western, Southern and Northern HSC Trusts’ areas helps redirect patients from busy Emergency Departments to other more appropriate services.

Patients are asked to ‘Phone First’ before attending Emergency Departments (EDs) at Causeway, Antrim Area, Daisy Hill, Craigavon Area, Altnagelvin and the South West Acute Hospitals.

Patients are also asked to ‘Phone First’ before attending the Minor Injuries Units in South Tyrone, Mid Ulster Hospitals and the Urgent Care and Treatment Unit in Omagh.

How to contact the Phone First service:

Southern Area

Craigavon Area Hospital / Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry / South Tyrone Hospital Minor Injuries Unit, Dungannon

Service operates 9am to 6pm Monday to Friday.

Phone First 0300 123 3 111

Interpreter Now app: https://interpreternow.co.uk/hscni

Phone First text relay number 18001 0300 123 3 111

Northern Area

Antrim Area Hospital / Mid Ulster Hospital Minor Injuries Unit, Magherafelt / Causeway Hospital

Service operates 24 hours a day, 7 days a week.

Phone First 0300 123 1 123

Interpreter Now app: https://interpreternow.co.uk/hscni

Phone First text relay number 18001 0300 123 1 123

Western Area

Altnagelvin and South West Acute Hospitals and Urgent Care and Treatment Unit in Omagh Hospital

Service operates from 08:00am to 12 Midnight 7 days per week.

Phone First 0300 020 6000

Interpreter Now app: https://interpreternow.co.uk/hscni

Members of the public can access waiting time information at all EDs and Minor Injury Units across the region at www.nidirect.gov.uk/emergency-department-waiting-times. This NI Direct webpage is updated hourly.