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Press Release

Emergency Departments across Northern Ireland currently experiencing very high levels of pressure


Joint Statement from the Health and Social Care Board and Public Health Agency

A spokesperson for the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and Public Health Agency (PHA) said:

“Emergency Departments across the north of Ireland have been experiencing high levels of pressure for several days. The public can assist by only attending an Emergency Department if their condition is urgent, so helping to ensure that the sickest patients get the care they need.

“The HSCB and PHA are urging the public to consider other care options available to them such as their GP, nearest Minor Injury Unit or local pharmacy if their symptoms are not urgent or life threatening. By choosing the most appropriate service patients will receive the right treatment in the right place and will help alleviate pressures on other urgent care services at this very busy time.

“Emergency Departments provide the highest level of emergency care for patients, especially those with sudden and acute illness or severe trauma. Patients who present at Emergency Departments will always be dealt with in order of clinical priority, so more acutely ill patients will be seen first.

“It is regrettable that some people are having to wait longer to be treated in Emergency Departments or to be admitted to hospital at this time.

The HSCB and PHA are currently working closely with all Health and Social Care Trusts to optimise the flow of patients within hospitals and will continue to monitor the situation.”

– Ends –

Notes to editors

The current ‘Stay Well’ campaign aims to help people gain a better understanding of the health services available to treat everything from a common cold to a major emergency.

Self care is the best choice to treat minor illnesses, ailments and injuries. A range of common illnesses such as aches and pains, coughs, colds, upset stomachs and sore throats can be treated with over the counter medicines and plenty of rest.  Remember, whether treated or not, most of these will get better.

Your local pharmacist can also provide confidential, expert advice and treatment for a range of common illnesses and complaints.

The GP out of hours service is available if you require urgent medical care which cannot wait until your daytime GP surgery re-opens.  Remember to telephone the service first.

Out of hours Dental Services

Details of dental services will be displayed at dental surgeries. For out of hours urgent dental problems, patients should contact their dental surgery or visit www.hscboard.hscni.net/our-work/integrated-care/dental-services/ or ring the Relief of Dental Pain Clinic out of hours telephone number 028 9063 8486.  The Relief of Dental Pain Clinic is for the treatment of dental emergencies only, including trauma, swelling, uncontrolled bleeding and severe pain.

Out of hours Emergency Social Work Service

The out of hours Emergency Social Work Service is available outside normal office hours and on weekends, Bank Holidays and Public Holidays for genuine emergencies that cannot wait until the next working day.  You can contact the service on 028 9504 9999.

Emergency Departments

Emergency Departments provide the highest level of emergency care for patients, especially those with sudden and acute illness or severe trauma.  The service is for those in need of emergency treatment.

999 Ambulance Service

As always, the emergency ambulance service will be there if you need it.  Always dial 999 when there is a risk to life or of serious injury.  But, if your call is not an emergency, then please use the most appropriate service and help keep the 999 system clear for life threatening emergencies.  Remember, you could risk a life if you tie up an emergency line for a non-emergency call.  Your call could delay someone with a real emergency.  Keep emergency lines free.

Mental health emergency

If you or someone is in a mental health crisis or emergency it’s important to get immediate help. If you have been or are being treated for a mental health problems, you should have a care plan which should include details and telephone numbers of who you should call in an emergency. If you don’t have these details or a care plan you should contact your mental health key worker and request information on who you should contact if your are experiencing problems, crisis and or an emergency.

If you don’t have a care plan and/or you are unable to contact your key worker, you should either:

Make an emergency appointment with your GP, or contact your GP out-of-hours service if the emergency is at night, weekend or a public holiday; or go to the Emergency Department at a hospital which will on your behalf make contact with emergency mental health services

In the event you can’t get the person you are caring for to an Emergency Department or you can’t keep them safe, you should call 999 and seek immediate assistance.

If you, or someone you know, needs help and you would like to speak to someone by telephone, you can also call Lifeline free, in confidence, 24/7 on 0808 808 8000.

Further information about health and social care services in your area and the ‘Stay Well’ campaign can be found at www.nidirect.gov.uk/stay-well