East Antrim MLA and Ulster Unionist spokesman on health Roy Beggs Jnr has welcomed the opening of a new 24 bed ward at Antrim Area hospital, and the imminent opening of a new Accident and Emergency unit at the crisis hit hospital.
Mrs Beggs, in wake of continuing service failures and missed targets at Antrim A&E, placed an Assembly question to the Minister of Health, “Given that Antrim Area Hospital Accidents and Emergency Department was designed to deal with 30,000 patients per year but receives 72,000 patients per year, what additional resources have been made available to staff in the Accident and Emergency Department?”
The Ministerial reply refers to the opening on 17th April of a new 24 bed ward and “a new £9M state of the art emergency has been constructed which will cater for up to 90,000 attendances a year. The new unit is expected to be operational from 26 June 2013.”
Roy Beggs MLA commented:
“The new ward and the soon to be completed new A&E are to be welcomed. The current Antrim A&E unit was built for 30,000 patients a year and yet it is treating 72,000. A new, modern layout with adequate space will assist our nurses and doctors. We need to give them the tools to do the job.
However new buildings will not of themselves solve the chronic problem of just over 60% of people attending Antrim A&E being seen within 4 hours. The NHS target is for 85% of people being seen within 4 hours.
Additional and better targeted resources are required to manage and treat patients. Too many patients are not adequately treated in the community, and have to join the A&E queue. We need better preventative treatment in the community. Locally We need modern Health and Care Centres in Larne and Carrickfergus to enable health professionals to treat more minor ailments locally and take the pressure off our Acute Hospitals.”