The Department of Health (DoH) today published statistics on the time spent in emergency care departments (ED) throughout Northern Ireland during the months of April, May and June 2023.
The statistical bulletin presents information on all new and unplanned review attendances during April, May and June 2023. It details information on the time spent in EDs during each of these months including; the monthly performance against the DoH emergency care waiting times target for EDs and the time waited for key milestones during a patient’s journey through ED, whilst they are being cared for in an ED, including the time to triage and time to start of treatment.
Please note that this statistical release includes information on two new urgent care services (i) PhoneFirst and (ii) Urgent Care Centres, which were introduced in late 2020, to assess patients’ needs before arrival at an ED, and ensure they receive the right care, at the right time, and in the right place, outside ED if appropriate. These new services may in part help explain the reduction in the number of patients attending EDs.
This information release is published on the Emergency Care Waiting Times Website.
Attendances at Emergency Care Departments:
Urgent and Emergency Care Attendances:
- In June 2023, 15,020 calls / attendances were received by PhoneFirst and Urgent Care Centre services, from patients who may previously have attended an ED. A total of 2,266 (15.1%) resulted in an attendance at an ED, whilst 12,754 patients did not go on to attend an ED.
- During June 2023, 69,123 patients in total attended an ED, and 12,754 attended PhoneFirst / Urgent Care Centre services without further referral to an ED; a total of 78,729 patients attending all urgent and emergency care services.
Emergency Care Attendances:
- During June 2023, there were 69,123 attendances at EDs in Northern Ireland, 4,277 (6.6%) more than in June 2022 (64,846).
- Of the 69,123 ED attendances during June 2023, 59,124 (85.5%) had attended a Type 1 ED, 4,299 (6.2%) attended a Type 2 ED and 5,700 (8.2%) attended a Type 3 ED.
- Between June 2022 and June 2023, attendances increased at Type 1 EDs (3,453, 6.2%), Type 2 EDs (169, 4.1%) and Type 3 EDs (655, 13.0%).
- There were 201,744 attendances at EDs during the quarter ending 30 June 2023, 4.0% (7,772) more than during the same quarter in 2022 (193,972).
Left before Treatment Complete:
- During June 2023, 6.4% of all ED attendances left before their treatment was complete, compared with 7.0% in June 2022.
Unplanned Re-Attendances within 7 Days:
- During June 2023, 3.7% of the 69,123 ED attendances were unplanned review attendances who had returned to the same ED within 7 days of their original attendance for the same condition.
Referrals by GP:
- During June 2023, almost one in six (16.3%) attendances at EDs had been referred by a GP, compared with 15.6% in June 2022.
Time Spent in Emergency Care Departments:
Performance against Targets
- Almost half (47.2%) of attendances at Type 1 EDs in June 2023 spent less than 4 hours in ED, compared with 88.8% at Type 2 EDs and 98.2% at Type 3 EDs
- During the quarter ending 30 June 2023, more than half (51.9%) of patients spent less than 4 hours at an ED, compared with 53.1% during the same quarter in 2022.
- Over four fiths (88.8%) of patients attending a Type 2 ED in June 2023 were treated and discharged, or admitted within 4 hours of their arrival, compared with 85.9% in June 2022.
- Almost all (98.2%) of patients attending a Type 3 ED were treated and discharged, or admitted within 4 hours of their arrival, compared with 99.4% in June 2022.
- Between June 2022 and June 2023, the number waiting over 12 hours increased from 8,193 to 8,918, accounting for 12.9% of attendances in June 2023.
Time to Triage:
- During June 2023, the median waiting time from arrival at an ED to triage (initial assessment) by a medical professional was 11 minutes, with 95 percent of patients having their care needs assessed for the first time by a medical professional within 1 hour 5 minutes of arrival.
Time to Start of Treatment:
- During June 2023, the median waiting time from triage to the start of treatment by a medical professional was 1 hour 8 minutes, with 95 percent of patients receiving treatment within 6 hours 19 minutes of being triaged.
- Over two thirds (66.4%) of patients attending EDs in June 2023 commenced their treatment within 2 hours of being triaged, compared with 64.6% in June 2022.
Total Time in Emergency Care Department:
- The median time patients discharged home (not admitted) spent in a Type 1 ED was 3 hours 37 minutes in June 2023, 8 minutes less than the time taken during the same month last year (3 hours 45 minutes).
- The median time patients who were admitted to hospital spent in a Type 1 ED was 13 hours 11 minutes in June 2023, 36 minutes more than the same month last year (12 hours 35 minutes).
- During June 2023, Craigavon Area reported the longest median time spent in ED from arrival to admission (20 hours 22 minutes), whilst the RBHSC reported the shortest time (4 hours 35 minutes).
Notes to editors:
- This statistical bulletin reports the total time spent in an ED from arrival until admission, transfer or discharge for all new and unplanned review attendances at emergency care departments across Northern Ireland. The figures do not include planned review attendances.
- Time is measured from when a patient arrives at the ED (time of arrival is recorded at registration or triage whichever is earlier (clock starts)) until the patient departs the ED (time of departure is defined as when the patient's clinical care episode is completed within the ED (clock stops)).
- The current draft Ministerial targets for emergency care waiting times in 2023/24 state that:
‘From April 2023, 95% of patients attending any Type 1, 2 or 3 Emergency Care Department are either treated and discharged home, or admitted, within four hours of their arrival in the department; and no patient attending any Emergency Care Department should wait longer than 12 hours.’
‘By March 2024, at least 80% of patients to have commenced treatment, following triage, within 2 hours.’
- Information which presents a summary of the emergency care clinical quality indicators for Northern Ireland has also been included in this release. This information is not National Statistics but has been included to provide a more comprehensive and balanced view of the care delivered by EDs and reflects the experience of patients and the timeliness of the care they receive.
- Readers are advised to be cautious when making direct comparisons between Northern Ireland and other UK Jurisdictions as waiting times may not be measured in a comparable manner. It should also be noted that the way in which emergency care services are delivered differs between UK jurisdictions. This means that the number and types of patients included in the figures may differ between countries. In particular, the 12-hour waiting time information published by England and Northern Ireland is not equivalent and should not be compared. Further information on comparability between Northern Ireland and other UK Jurisdictions are included in the ‘Emergency Care Waiting Time Statistics – Additional Guidance’ booklet.
- The DoH have liaised with colleagues in England, Scotland and Wales to clarify differences between the emergency care waiting times reported for each administration and have produced a guidance document to provide readers with a clear understanding of these differences Emergency Care UK Comparative Waiting Times PDF (25KB)
- There are three separate categories of emergency care facility included in this publication:
Type 1 Department A consultant-led service with designated accommodation for the reception of emergency care patients, providing both emergency medicine and emergency surgical services 24 hours a day.
Type 2 Department A consultant-led service with designated accommodation for the reception of emergency care patients, but which does not provide both emergency medicine and emergency surgical services and/or has time-limited opening hours.
Type 3 Department A minor injury unit with designated accommodation for the reception of patients with a minor injury and/or illness. It may be a doctor or nurse-led. A defining characteristic of this service is that it treats at least minor injuries and/or illnesses and can be routinely accessed without an appointment.
- Figures incorporate all returns and amendments received from HSC Trusts up to Monday 17 June 2023.
- Further information on Emergency Care Statistics is available from:
Hospital Information Branch
Department of Health
Annexe 2, Castle Buildings
Internet: DoH Statistics and Research
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