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HSC experiencing significant pressures on Emergency Departments

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Emergency Departments across Northern Ireland continue to be under extreme pressure today with increasing numbers of children and older, sicker people with complex conditions attending and requiring to be admitted.

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

“We would pay tribute to our staff who are working tirelessly to ensure that patients receive the care that they need.  However, as predicted, the pressures on services have led to some patients waiting longer than is acceptable, particularly to be admitted to a hospital bed.

“We would therefore ask the public to assist us in using services appropriately. Our clear message is if you are seriously ill or injured, then the Emergency Department is the place to go.

“If you are not assessed as urgent you may have to wait for a lengthy period.”

“If you do not need emergency care, we would urge you to please choose alternative services. These include using the online A-Z symptom search, seeking advice from your local pharmacist, contacting your GP, or the GP Out of Hours services (if your medical condition can’t wait until your GP surgery reopens).”

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

Notes to editors

Please note figures on pressures in EDs over the holiday period (20 December to 6 January) will not be available until 9th January 2020.


See below links to further information on winter plans and messages:

Public Resources

• Stay Well home page on NI Direct – https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/campaigns/stay-well

• Leaflets on services in each Trust area – https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/publications/stay-well-winter

• NI Direct A-Z Symptom Search- https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/health-conditions-a-z

• NI Direct information on waiting times- https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/emergency-department-waiting-times

• NI Direct information on Community Pharmacists- https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/community-pharmacists#toc-4

Advice this winter

• Advice on when to return to school or work after being unwell – www.pha.site/returntoschooladvice

• Flu vaccine reminder as cases increase – https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/flu-vaccine-reminder-cases-increase

• Tips on preventing falls at home this winter –https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/news/tips-preventing-falls-home-winter

• Health service reminds people to order their repeat prescriptions before holidays –https://hscboard.hscni.net/health-service-reminds-people-order-repeat-prescriptions-holidays/

• Community pharmacists to offer consultations and advice for minor winter ailments – https://hscboard.hscni.net/pharmacy_first_2019/

• Extra investment in GP services for urgent appointments after Christmas holidays – https://hscboard.hscni.net/extra-investment-gp-services-urgent-appointments-christmas-holidays-2/