Discussions are ongoing this afternoon within the Northern Health and Social Care Trust in relation to a potential major incident as pressures at Antrim Area Hospital have become more intense than they ever have seen before.
The hospital in recent days has seen an unprecedented demand with high numbers of extremely sick patients.
At one stage this morning, doctors had made the decision that 62 people needed to be admitted to beds that weren’t available in wards.
A potential major incident, which is usually called by the ED Consultant in charge on safety grounds, puts staff throughout the hospitals and in community services on high alert, causing them to focus on all possible actions to avert an actual major incident being declared. It remains in place until it is either stood down or is escalated to a full major incident, which would involve the hospital being unable to take any further patients and effectively shutting its doors.
A Trust spokesperson said:
“We’re not in a good place at all and we have never seen pressures just quite as intense as this. Unfortunately, those pressures are compounded by the fact that many of the patients waiting in the Emergency Department are very sick indeed.
“Senior staff and clinicians are in constant communication with each other to try and identify what, if anything, can be can done They are also working with colleagues in the wider HSC, although pressures are also severe elsewhere across the region, meaning that normal balancing, or ‘smoothing’, of ambulance arrivals across the system is much more difficult.”
“Flow through the hospital is considerably impacted and discharge is more complicated because we are also continuing to care for significant numbers of COVID in-patients. Currently, Antrim Hospital has 26% of all of the region’s COVID in-patients and more COVID inpatients (101) than any other hospital in Northern Ireland.
“In situations like this many different actions, some seemingly minor, can collectively make the difference. We have also asked our GP colleagues in Primary Care, who are themselves under considerable pressure, for their help in trying to ensure that only those who absolutely need to attend ED do so.”