Almost one in five admissions to the Southern Trust’s Accident and Emergency units are due to major trauma, the highest proportion in Northern Ireland.
The latest figures released by the Department of Health suggest that local casualty wards make up one of the most traumatic front-lines in Northern Ireland’s health service.
Worryingly, the proportion of urgent admissions has been growing since 2012.
Over the past year, a total of 17.4 percent of emergency admissions to the Southern Trust, which includes South Tyrone and Craigavon Hospitals, were classified as ‘immediate’ or ‘very urgent’ on the Manchester Triage Scale (MTS), whilst the remaining attendances were assessed as ‘standard’ or ‘non-urgent’ on the MTS.
By comparison, the next highest was in the Western Trust with 13.8% of admissions classed as major trauma, followed by the Belfast Trust with 13.7%.
The South Eastern Trust had the lowest level of major trauma admissions at 11.6%,
In January of this year, a total of 6,371 patients were admitted to Craigavon’s Accident and Emergency ward, the third highest total in Northern Ireland, after the Royal Victoria and Ulster Hospitals.
Of these, 79% were seen within four hours, and 99.9% within twelve hours.
Hospitals are meant to see 95% of patients in four hours.
Across the UK, A&E pressures have become so great that a number of hospitals have had to declare major incidents, calling in extra staff, cancelling operations and - in extreme cases - diverting ambulances away from A&E units.
It has led to reports of patients queuing in corridors, being treated in side-rooms and ambulances struggling to drop patients off.