Covid-19: Hospital under severe pressure after ambulance queues

Covid-19: Hospital under severe pressure after ambulance queues

There is still “severe pressure” on Antrim Area Hospital, after a night which saw queuing ambulances outside hospitals across Northern Ireland.

The Northern Trust, which oversees the hospital, said there were no waiting ambulances outside the hospital on Wednesday morning.

On Tuesday night, doctors treated patients in ambulances with 17 vehicles outside the hospital at one point.

At 07:00 GMT on Wednesday, there were 48 people in the Emergency Department.

Of these, 43 were waiting to be admitted, with 29 of those people who have been waiting for more than 12 hours.

In a statement, the trust said it was “not a situation that anyone wants to see”, adding that the hospital remained under “severe pressure”.

“We sincerely apologise to the patients affected and their families. Staff are working very hard to try to manage the situation and maintain flow,” the trust said.

Speaking to RTÉ’s Morning Ireland programme on Wednesday, Wendy McGowan, the Northern Health Trust operations director, said “whilst it has improved dramatically overnight we are still starting out this morning with a very low base rate”.

The Northern Ireland Ambulance Service said there were queues outside all of Northern Ireland’s emergency departments on Tuesday night due to Covid pressures.

Health Minister Robin Swann confirmed he would bring new proposals about restrictions to Thursday’s executive meeting.

The meeting will see ministers look at options to manage the spread of Covid-19 in Northern Ireland.

Pat Cullen from the Royal College of Nursing told the BBC’s Evening Extra programme that nurses were exhausted from working “excessive hours”.

She said hospital nurses were treating patients in the back of ambulances and along corridors as well as on the wards and in the emergency departments, while the district nurses were trying to cope with “60% vacancies” in their workforce.

Deputy First Minister Michelle O’Neill said Sinn Féin “will support any proposals brought forward by the health minister to tackle the current situation.”

Further talks over whether to revise Covid rules over Christmas will take place between the UK government and the devolved governments on Wednesday.

Cabinet minister Michael Gove discussed the issue with senior politicians in Scotland, Northern Ireland and Wales on Tuesday, but no final decision was made.

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