Sick and vulnerable patients have been forced to wait for long periods in ambulances parked outside Craigavon Area Hospital, suggesting a crisis in the system.
In the month of January alone, ambulances were delayed by more than two hours handing over patients to the hospital’s A&E department and other wards on a total of 20 occasions.
The delays were the worst for any hospital in Northern Ireland, according to the latest figures released by the Department of Health.
South West Acute Hospital had the next worst times, with ambulances seriously delayed on 12 occasions during this January, while Altnagelvin Area, RBHSC and Royal Maternity had the lowest with just one ambulance delayed by more than two hours. The figures relate to all ambulance journeys, including urgent and routine patient journeys in addition to those resulting from emergency calls. A spokesperson for the Southern Trust said: “The Trust is aware that the ambulance turnaround times in our acute hospitals 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.”