Craigavon Area Hospital’s medical director has told UTV the emergency department just experienced one of its worst ever evenings.
Against the backdrop of an equally bleak picture at many hospitals across Northern Ireland, dozens of patients were forced to wait for hours on end to be seen.
And there are fears that the situation may only get worse, as the health workers from the union Unison prepare to take industrial action on Monday and nurses have planned to strike next month.
The system is certainly very overloaded and stressed, as evidenced by the increased waiting times and some of the feedback from the public.
Craigavon Area Hospital had 255 people through its doors on Tuesday evening.
Eighty-three of them had to wait more than 12 hours.
“I think last night was one of the worst nights that we’ve had,” Dr Maria O’Kane, the hospital’s medical director said.
“Unfortunately, there has been very little respite this year in terms of the activity across the different seasons. This pressure is relentless, day on day.”
Dr O’Kane said it was always a concern that such pressure would lead to lives being put at risk, but said that medical staff would “work to the highest possible safety standards to try to avoid that”.
In a snapshot of waiting times at hospitals at 8am on Wednesday, UTV found that the average wait ranged from over three hours at the Ulster Hospital to nearly seven hours at Craigavon Area Hospital.
Hospital Waiting Times(Wednesday 8am)
Craigavon Area – 6.8 hours
South West Acute – 5.7 hours
Royal Victoria – 5.5 hours
Mater – 4 hours
Ulster – 3.2 hours