Ambulances had to be diverted from Craigavon Hospital’s Emergency Department on Monday night due to a huge surge in patient numbers.
The Southern Trust confirmed some ambulances were diverted to Daisy Hill in Newry and the South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen.
SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly called on Health Minister Edwin Poots to step in after the department experienced “unprecedented demand”.
However, a spokesperson for the hospital said the situation was “effectively dealt with”.
Southern Trust chief executive Mairead McAlinden apologised for some patients having to wait longer than normal.
The Ambulance Service confirmed it was asked to “where appropriate, divert ambulances to other hospital while the situation in Craigavon was dealt with”.
Mrs Kelly said, “I have received multiple reports of a serious incident in Craigavon Area Hospital where an unprecedented demand on accident and emergency services created what was perceived to be a serious risk to patients.
“I have heard stories of multiple ambulances being diverted to other hospitals while more queued at the door. I have heard of patients being placed in inappropriate locations in the hospital including recovery wards.
“The frontline staff dealt with this very serious situation with professionalism and their best efforts, but it is not acceptable that the situation should have occurred in the first place.
“At a time when A&E opening hours are being reduced in Lagan Valley and the Downe Hospital it is clear that those patients need to go somewhere. Winter is a time of pressure for A&Es with illness and accidents, particularly for older people or those with long-term or chronic illness.
“There is a serious resource issue across the north and this must be addressed as a matter of urgency by the Minister for Health. Patient safety must be the paramount concern and this kind of incident at Craigavon Area Hospital must not be allowed to reoccur.”
A spokesperson for Craigavon Hospital said, “Craigavon Area Hospital’s Emergency Department was very busy on Monday evening with a large number of patients needing to be admitted. The situation was effectively dealt with, and managers and clinicians worked into the night to ensure patients were safely dealt with.
“For a short period, ambulances were diverted to Daisy Hill Hospital as is normal practice between our two hospitals, and our colleagues in the South West Acute Hospital agreed to accept ambulances from that part of Craigavon’s catchment area.”
Mairead McAlinden, Southern Trust chief executive, said, ‘Our staff went the extra mile on Monday night, and everyone worked together to make sure patients had the treatment they needed. The situation was managed through our normal escalation processes, and I am very grateful to our doctors, nurses and managers who worked into the late evening to make sure our patients were safely cared for. We are very fortunate to have such committed and caring staff.
“I apologise for some patients having to wait longer than normal in our ED on Monday, but I was in regular contact with Debbie Burns, interim director of acute services, who was on site managing the situation and I know that everything possible was done to effectively control a high number of patients.”