Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson, Roy Beggs MLA, has warned that the latest publication of emergency treatment times demonstrates that the lives are being put at risk. In 2016/17 there was a further slump in the number of emergency ambulances arriving within the target time of 8 minutes.
Roy Beggs said:
“The importance of ambulances and paramedics arriving on time cannot be emphasised enough. The longer someone has to wait for assistance in an emergency the greater the risk there is of them coming to serious and lasting harm.
“In the Northern area there where 109,329 NI Ambulance Service patient journeys in 2016/17, with over a third (35.6%) of these classed as emergencies.”
“The target for Category A ambulance calls – which are considered to be the most urgent and life threatening – is that 72.5% should attended within 8 minutes. It is frightening that the Department of Health has now confirmed that last year only 51% arrived on time. The figure has consistently deteriorated over each of the last five years, down from over 68% in 2012/13.
“It is medically proven that patients who are seen quickly have better outcomes than those who have to wait. These delays are inevitably having major implications for the patients who unfortunately are affected by them.
“People in real emergencies such as road traffic collisions and those experiencing cardiac difficulties are having to wait for longer for emergency assistance to arrive. That is simply not acceptable and falls far below the safe and sustainable standard that people should expect.
“The latest publication of emergency department waiting times also confirms that during 2016/17, only 69.8% of patients attending Northern Ireland’s main EDs were treated and discharged, or admitted, within 4 hours of their arrival, despite the target being 95%. It’s a further indication of the scale of the unprecedented crisis our entire health service now finds itself in.
“These latest waiting times are disgraceful and yet there is nothing being done to resolve them. Whilst Sinn Fein claim they are committed to resolving the crisis in the health service it is they, and they alone, who stand in the way of a new Executive being formed which could actually take the measures needed.”