The emergency department at Craigavon Area Hospital has been left at breaking point with some 250 people waiting to be assessed over the past two nights.
And it is a situation which has been described as “unsustainable” by Upper Bann SDLP MLA Dolores Kelly.
She said the situation had resulted in absolute chaos with some having to wait over seven hours to be seen by a doctor.
The Southern Health Trust has been using social media over the festive period and into the New Year to advise patients once again only to go to the Emergency Department if absolutely necessary.
At 7pm last night (Tuesday), Mrs Kelly said that 108 people were waiting to be assessed at Craigavon’s ED.
And the previous evening, New Year’s Day, there were reports of 140 waiting for assessment.
Mrs Kelly has praised the staff for what they have been doing but insists it is far from acceptable that they should be placed under so much stress and strain.
Describing the current situation as nothing short of a crisis – and worrying too – she said she was “deeply concerned over the difficulties and delays patients are having” in the ED at Craigavon.
“Pressures had already seen patients have elective surgery cancelled and patients have complained of increased waiting times,” explained Mrs Kelly.
“While I understand that the staff are working tirelessly to deliver the highest standard of care, unions and workers have told me that they are struggling to meet the demand.
“Furthermore, staff are over-stretched and stressed as the pressures are firmly placed on their shoulders.
“I’ve contacted the Trust directly seeking urgent answers and, while I understand this issue is not unique to Craigavon, the Trust must take urgent action to ensure that the emergency service is protected and patients receive timely treatment.
“Any staff or patients in need of assistance can contact my office directly, I will do all that I can to support the Trust to meet patient care needs.”