For seven long hours the Emergency Department reception at Antrim Area Hospital lay in darkness.
Staff at this 24/7 ED were forced to shut the doors to new emergency patients for the first time ever.
Hospital bosses have been warning for some time that this could happen.
Every day staff are doing all they can to keep the doors open.
But on Saturday night Antrim ED was unable to pull back from the brink.
There just wasn’t enough room in the hospital to safely manage any more patients.
Ambulances were diverted to other hospitals and patients advised to attend elsewhere.
The knock on effect was felt at other ED’s across Northern Ireland.
The Belfast Trust had to put an emergency call out to off-duty staff to come in and help.
This is only November. The health service has yet to be hit by the real winter pressures.
Also, in a matter of weeks, nurses are due to take strike action over pay and conditions.
There is no guarantee that what happened in Antrim over the weekend won’t happen again either there or at one of our other crisis hit hospitals.
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