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Altnagelvin Hospital has 'best-performing' large A&E department
28 Jun 2019
Altnagelvin Hospital has the "best-performing large A&E department" in Northern Ireland, according to newly published statistics on waiting times. The document produced by the department of health shows that despite workforce challenges and, a higher than average increase in attendances, the Derry Hospital has the best record for treating patients within the 4 hour target. At Altnagelvin 71.2% of attendees were triaged and treated within four hours while other emergency departments dealing with similar patient numbers fell to around 60% or under. The Western Trust performed well in a number of other areas, including being one of only two Trusts to meet the 80% target for commencing care within 2 hours of triage, achieving 86.9%. Altnagelvin itself seen 88.1% of its patients within this time frame. Time elapsed from triage to start of treatment was also the quickest in the Western Trust with a median waiting time of 33 minutes. And 95 per cent of patients commenced their treatment within 2 hours 59 minutes of being triaged at an ED in the Western HSC Trust, compared with 4 hours 38 minutes in the Southern Trust. Furthermore, it reported the shortest median waiting time, at 5 hours 51 minutes, for patients admitted to hospital in 2018/19. Mark Gillespie, Assistant Director for Emergency Medicine commented: “The Western Trust is committed to ensuring that patients do not have to wait any longer than necessary when being seen and treated at one of our emergency departments. “As evidenced by the report we are showing continued year on year improvement in the vast majority of measured waiting times. “Altnagelvin Hospital has seen an increase in the number of attendances in our EDs since 2014 of 24.2% which is significantly higher than the average increase across HSC Trusts of 15.1%. “Our ED is the best performing large ED in Northern Ireland with 71.2% of patients triaged and treated within the 4 hour target. “I wish to pay tribute to our hardworking and dedicated staff who strive to treat patients as quickly as possible.” Like other areas, the Western Trust experienced significant pressures during the first few months of 2019. This was largely due to winter pressures and the increased number of people attending the hospital for respiratory, flu-like and winter vomiting bug illnesses. Mr Gillespie added: “Also regionally all Trusts have workforce challenges which influence and impair their ability to operate their full-bed capacity within the hospital, this has a direct impact on patient flow through the emergency departments." A number of initiatives and services that support the flow of patients through the hospital have been set-up at Altnagelvin. Its Ambulatory Care Unit (ACU) operates a service whereby local GP’s can refer patients directly for more urgent diagnostic tests. And an Acute Care At Home team provides hospital-like care to patients in their own homes. “Acute Care At Home is an excellent example of how people can recover better in their home when they have access to the same treatment and care available in hospital. “The Trust also has a close working relationship with colleagues in Western Urgent Care to ensure sufficient medical capacity out of hours and at weekends,” Mr Gillespie explained.
Expansion In terms of Emergency Department expansion and in addition to earlier environment improvements with the department, the Trust is currently developing business case proposals for the next phase of the Altnagelvin Strategic Redevelopment (Phase 5.2). These proposals will include, amongst other key infrastructural elements, plans for the refurbishment and expansion of the current Altnagelvin ED facilities. The business case associated with Altnagelvin Phase 5.2 development is anticipated to be completed and submitted for Departmental consideration by late summer/early autumn 2019. Anticipated timelines for progression of this work will however be dependent upon both Departmental approval, scheme prioritisation and confirmation of available capital funding.
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