North Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA Robin Swann has expressed his “deep concern” after it was revealed that 2,701 hospital discharges were delayed at the Causeway last year, “resulting in patients unnecessarily spending time in the hospital whilst others struggled to be admitted or receive the care they needed”.
Assemblyman Swann, the UUP Chief Whip and North Antrim UUP Chairman, said: “I am shocked at that so many bed days were lost at the Causeway hospital last year. This information, which was revealed in response to an Ulster Unionist Assembly Question to the Health Minister, further demonstrates the frightening scale of the crisis currently engulfing our hospitals.
“Indeed, the Antrim Area Hospital reported the second worst performance in the whole of Northern Ireland with a massive 9,712 delayed discharges there. That is equivalent of a patient continuously lying on the same bed for over 26 years – it’s shocking.
“Hospitals are often not the best or safest place for patients to recover, not least given the possibility of picking up hospital-related infections. Of course, there is also the other problem of these beds being occupied by people who don’t absolutely need them, while other patients who do desperately need medical attention are being ‘blocked’ by the backlog in the system.
“In particular, delayed discharges are one of the keys causes of growing waiting times in our emergency and surgery departments as they struggle to find beds for patients who need to be admitted. Indeed at the end of last year my Party revealed that there were over 2,500 people waiting for elective surgery in the Causeway Hospital at the 31st December 2015, so this latest finding that there were an even greater number of bed days lost will only add to the deep sense of anger that many people feel with recent Health Ministers after they allowed the situation to deteriorate to the current unprecedented crisis.
“From talking to families and medical staff in the North Antrim and East Londonderry areas, it is clear that the scarcity of community care packages is one of the main contributors to the intolerable situation in the Causeway Hospital.
“Unfortunately, instead of setting out to tackle the situation, the recent DUP and Sinn Fein Health Ministers have instead only sought to pacify themselves with one so-called major review after the other. Our patients don’t need any more reports, much of which only end up a shelf anyway, instead they need action, so I would urge the Stormont Executive to recognise the gravity of the situation,” warned Assemblyman Swann.