The present stress on hospital beds is “worse than it was during Covid”, in response to a senior supervisor on the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald.
Seaneen Pettigrew works within the hospital’s discharge hub and her function is to unlock beds by facilitating the discharge of medically-fit sufferers.
She mentioned they have been having issue securing care locally for susceptible sufferers leaving hospital.
Ms Pettigrew mentioned demand for carers “is currently outstripping supply”.
“We’ve more patients attending emergency department (ED), we’ve more patients coming through the hospital and more patients with complex needs who are needing more support on discharge than maybe previously,” she mentioned.
BBC News NI was granted entry to the hospital’s discharge hub this week, in addition to its emergency division.
On Wednesday afternoon, 135 sufferers have been within the emergency division, with 50 of these ready for admission to a ward.
At the identical time, there have been 67 sufferers within the hospital who have been able to be discharged into the group, however couldn’t go away due to delays securing onward care.
One affected person, who required admission to the hospital, had been ready nearly 60 hours within the emergency division.
Seven ambulances have been additionally ready exterior with sufferers onboard.
Andrew Dobbin, a advisor on the Ulster Hospital, warned that sufferers ready lengthy intervals in emergency departments to be admitted are “going to come to harm”.
He mentioned there was “almost a one-in-one out-policy” on account of delays discharging medically-fit sufferers.
Dr Dobbin mentioned it had turn out to be regular to see 50 sufferers ready within the division for admission to wards and for hospital employees to be beneath “significant pressure”.
“We know, as our Royal College of Emergency Medicine has said, that crowding and long waits in emergency departments are directly linked to harm for patients and we know that patients staying here for long periods of time are going to come to harm.”
He added there have been two the explanation why emergency departments have been going through “significant problems”.
“The first thing is demand has increased and the second problem, which is the main problem at the moment, is that we have a significant number of patients who need to continue their care in hospital that we cannot move through our system to create the capacity to run an efficient, safe, effective emergency department.”
‘Demand outstripping what’s obtainable’
In the hospital’s discharge hub a workforce of nurses, social employees, administrative employees and occupational therapists work seven days every week sourcing appropriate placements for sufferers who’re prepared to go away hospital.
Ms Pettigrew advised BBC News NI that the “picture is worse than it was during Covid” due to the demand.
“The challenges we are having would be in accessing domiciliary care and sourcing appropriate care homes to facilitate patient discharge, and as a result those patients are delayed in hospital awaiting their care package or care home.”
Ms Pettigrew mentioned the workforce on the discharge hub have been interesting to sufferers and their households to work with them.
“Given the challenges we may have to look at an alternative interim bed to go to, to await your package or await your home of choice.
“We know its not ultimate, however it frees up the hospital mattress for these sufferers ready to come back in via ED to additionally get the remedy that the one you love can have had.”
The discharge hub manager said there was a need to increase the number of care workers both within care homes and the domiciliary care sector.
“It is a really advanced difficulty inside domiciliary care, the demand for the service is outstripping what’s obtainable on the minute.
“And then within our care home sector it is the appropriate care home placements for patients – potentially those who have complex nursing needs, complex behavioural needs. It’s trying to source the right placements for those patients,” Ms Pettigrew defined.
Increased ready record numbers
Separately, the variety of folks ready for a primary appointment with a advisor elevated by 20,000 in a yr, in response to the most recent figures from the Department of Health.
More than 375,000 folks have been ready to see a specialist on the finish of September, up greater than 5% from the identical time final yr.
The Department of Health mentioned its goal by March subsequent yr is that not less than 50% of individuals shouldn’t be ready any longer than 9 weeks for a primary outpatient appointment.
The present variety of sufferers ready longer than 9 weeks is 82%, with over half of individuals on a ready record for greater than a yr.
The newest figures additionally present that almost 124,000 folks have been ready to be admitted to hospital for inpatient or day care remedy.
And almost 164,000 sufferers have been nonetheless ready for a diagnostic check on the finish of September – up 11% on the identical time final yr.