A Northern Ireland hospital closed its doors to new admissions on Saturday night because conditions had become unsafe, a health chief has said.
Jennifer Welsh, chief executive at the Northern Health Trust, said the situation in the emergency department (ED) at Antrim Area Hospital on Monday remained “extremely pressured”.
A major incident was declared at the weekend when a high number of critically ill patients arrived in quick succession at the Co Antrim hospital, prompting the decision to temporarily close the doors to new admissions.
Ms Welsh said there were 45 patients in the ED on Monday for whom a decision to admit had been made, but for whom no bed is available.
She told the BBC Good Morning Ulster programme: “That would have been unthinkable about four or five years ago, we would have never seen numbers like that."
She said: “We had a high number of people arriving. A very high number of patients in the department.
“At the time we called the incident there were 131 patients and about 66 of them had a decision to admit and no bed available.
“At that stage our resuscitation unit was already full, it was over full.
“Then we got the news we had three more standby ambulances coming in. That is critically ill patients who had to be brought into our resuscitation department as quickly as possible and we simply could not cope.
“The safest thing to do in those circumstances is to call the major incident, to effectively close the door and what that means is that people are conveyed to the next nearest emergency department to ensure they begin the urgent treatment that they need because we were not able to do that.
“It was the right call to say that it was unsafe. It was unsafe at that time.”
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Source: The Independent, 14 November 2022