Health bosses at hospital warn: "We are on the edge"

“We are on the edge”.

That is the stark warning from health bosses at Antrim Area Hospital, where this morning 54 sick patients were waiting in the Emergency Department for a bed.

It had been another extremely challenging weekend at the ED, with no free beds in the hospital to admit new patients.

At 8am this morning, as night time staff handed over to daytime staff, it was clear another difficult day lay ahead.

I attended the staff morning security briefing where department, after department warned they had no free beds.

The ED team said it was a struggle to see patients and get a bed for them.

Infection Control warned they were seeing a lot more positive Covid cases.

Most departments reported staff shortages.

All departments were urged to speed up discharges if it was safe to do so.

“Last night, which is becoming very much a theme for us, we were under extreme pressures. I actually wasn’t meant to be on duty but I got called in because the place was under so much pressure,” said Audrey Harris, the Director of Medicine and Emergency Medicine for the Northern Health Trust.

She added: “Our ED was obviously not built for the attendances we are now seeing. This last couple of months it is just relentless… Most days here, we are on the edge of being able to manage.”

The pressures in the Northern Trust are replicated across Northern Ireland.

Unless Trusts can work together to resolve the beds crisis, it could just be a matter of time before an ED falls over that edge.