The number of seriously ill patients experiencing long delays in getting emergency care at Craigavon Area Hospital has almost doubled in the past year, new figures have revealed.
The shock figures, which suggest that ambulances are being forced to queue at local A&E departments, are the latest sign of the soaring demands being placed on NHS services.
The health department figures show that last year ambulance crews had to wait for more than one hour on a total of 1,241 occasions before they were able to unload patients into the care of Craigavon Hospital.
The figure, which is almost double the previous year’s total of 688, was the second worst in Northern Ireland, with only the Royal Victoria’s A&E department experiencing a greater number of long delays.
A spokesperson for the Southern Trust said: ““The figures provided by Northern Ireland Ambulance Service show a significant increase (9% approx.) in the total number of ambulances attending the department.
“The Trust is aware that the ambulance turnaround times in Craigavon Area Hospital can sometimes be longer than we would like. The Trust is working closely with the Ambulance Service to improve turnaround times.
“It is important to be aware that ambulance turnaround times include the entire time an ambulance spent at a Hospital including the periods before and after patients have been handed over to theEmergency Department.”