A COOKSTOWN man was stranded in an ambulance at Craigavon Area Hospital’s A&E Department for more than five hours it has been revealed.
However, the Mid-Ulster man’s harrowing experience is only the tip of the iceberg, according to local MLA Sandra Overend.
The UUP representative has raised the alarm about the length of so-called turnover times, which refers to the time taken for an ambulance to be made ready for the next journey following arrival at the hospital.
Latest Department of Health figures show that 28 patients were left waiting more than two hours for treatment in an ambulance at Craigavon’s A&E in the past year.
At Antrim Area Hospital, the longest delay at the A&E was an hour and a half.
Paramedics can only hand patients over to hospitals when staff there are ready to take charge of them.
This process is supposed to take no longer than 15 minutes and longer delays can lead to fines for some hospitals.
Last week, the Mid-Ulster Mail revealed how Cookstown patients with life-threatening emergencies are having to wait the longest for an ambulance in Northern Ireland.
In the Northern Board, which includes the Cookstown and Magherafelt districts, as many as four in ten emergency ambulances failed to reach the patient within the eight minute target time.
Ms Overend has warned that the health of Cookstown patients is being placed at risk.
“Mid-Ulster is a rural constituency, and its widely spread population means there is a difficulty in reducing response times, when compared to the Belfast area”, she said.
“However, this is not an excuse for a poorer service. This discrepancy in response times is worrying. The longer it takes for ambulances to reach the patients most in need of help, such as in cases of heart attacks, strokes and seizures; the chance of those patients making a full recovery is reduced. In one particular instance recently a local constituent of mine was waiting with his ambulance crew for upwards on 5-6 hours.”