A spokesperson for the Health and Social Care system in Northern Ireland said:
“Emergency Departments and hospital wards across Northern Ireland remain extremely busy today (3 January 2020).
“As of 2pm today, there were 136 patients waiting over 12 hours to be either admitted to a hospital bed or discharged and 401 over the last 24 hour period.
“Staff are continuing to work tirelessly to ensure that patients receive the care they need as quickly and safely as possible. There is a continued focus on supporting patients to return home or to a community setting as quickly as possible when their hospital treatment has been completed.
“We can assure the public that anyone who needs to use an Emergency Department for urgent or life threatening conditions will continue to receive access to safe, high quality services from our highly skilled and committed staff.
“It is unacceptable and regrettable that some people are having to wait longer to be treated in Emergency Departments than normal or to be admitted to hospital at this time, for this we apologise.
“The Health and Social Care Board is currently working closely with all Health and Social Care Trusts to optimise the flow of patients within hospitals and into the community. We will continue to closely monitor the situation.
“We would also ask the public to assist us in using services appropriately. Our clear message is if you are seriously ill or injured, then the Emergency Department is the place to go.
“If you are not assessed as urgent you may have to wait for a lengthy period.”
“If you do not need emergency care, we would urge you to please choose alternative services. These include using the online A-Z symptom search (click here), seeking advice from your local pharmacist, contacting your GP, or the GP Out of Hours services (if your medical condition can’t wait until your GP surgery reopens).”
“The public can access waiting time information at all EDs and Minor Injury Units across the region by logging onto www.nidirect.gov.uk/emergency-department-waiting-times. This NI Direct webpage is updated hourly.”
See below links to further information on winter plans and messages: