Northern Trust responds after major incident declared and Antrim Region Hospital emergency department closed to new admissions

The Antrim area hospital was forced to close its emergency department over the weekend after a ‘disproportionately high number of seriously ill patients’ arrived for treatment.

The Northern Health and Social Care Trust declared a major incident on Saturday evening and later confirmed the hospital was at ‘full capacity’ and under ‘extreme pressure’.

On Sunday morning, the Trust appealed for people not to show up “under any circumstances” and said the situation was “continuously being assessed”.

In an updated statement, the situation was confirmed to remain “extreme” and said closing the emergency department to patients “was the only safe and appropriate response”.

And yesterday the Belfast Trust was also overwhelmed. “We are under extreme pressure as we care for increasing numbers of sick patients,” he said in a tweet calling on nursing staff to come to work.

The Trust said the Children’s Emergency Department was ‘extremely busy’, adding: ‘Please only attend if your child has a serious medical emergency.

Adult A&E was also ‘unusually busy’ with long waits for non-urgent care.

The Trust said in a separate post: “Our hospitals face continued and unrelenting pressure, particularly regarding patient discharges and we currently have a high number of patients in our hospitals who no longer require hospital care. “

Reacting to the closure of Antrim’s A&E, Alliance Party MP Danny Donnelly said: “It’s incredibly worrying. An A&E hospital operating at full capacity and unable to accept any more patients means staff are working under extreme pressure for long periods of time.

“It’s unsustainable and needs to be addressed urgently. We’re in a health crisis and it’s only November.”

Sinn Fein’s Declan Kearney said he was “deeply concerned” about the situation.

The MP said: ‘I urge the public to continue to cooperate with hospital staff and people should definitely go to the emergency room if their condition is urgent or life threatening.

“Unfortunately the impact of last night’s closure will be that those presenting with non-urgent conditions may endure a long wait to be seen.

“This latest incident in our hospitals is deeply concerning, with pressures increasing as we head into winter.

“Health service staff and patients need a working executive, to invest an extra billion pounds in health, to tackle waiting lists, recruit more doctors and nurses and fund cancer and mental health services.”

A spokesman for the Northern Trust said: ‘We have warned for some time that it is inevitable that one or more hospitals may be forced into a situation where they have to close their emergency department for safety reasons in because of the number of people in the department. with high numbers to be admitted.

“As of Saturday evening, Area Antrim Hospital had a disproportionately high number of critically ill patients, a number of whom arrived in quick succession.

“A clinical decision has been made by the senior emergency department consultant that the department can no longer operate safely and can no longer respond appropriately to any additional critically ill patients who may have arrived.

“Thus, a major incident has been declared. The temporary closure of the emergency department allowed the situation to be managed and controlled safely.

“It was a regrettable position, but in the circumstances it was the only safe and appropriate response. The Trust continues to work closely with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service and other trusts to coordinate a appropriate response given regional pressures.

“The Antrim site currently has a high number of very sick patients who need to be admitted to hospital and our priority today must therefore be the discharge of patients.

“We ask for the full cooperation of patients, families and caregivers to help us release loved ones who are ready to return home, free up much needed beds and reduce the overall pressure on our service.

“People should absolutely go to the emergency department if their condition is urgent or life-threatening. Patients will still be seen in clinical priority order, so those presenting with non-urgent conditions will have to wait a long time to be seen.

“We thank the public and our staff for their patience and understanding in these difficult circumstances.”