A screengrab from the video posted online by SDLP Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty.
A NEWRY and Armagh MLA says he “will not” apologise for misleading the public on a video posted to social media on Saturday evening.
Justin McNulty of the SDLP shared a video from an “unknown source” pertaining to highlight the immense pressures hospital staff were under at Daisy Hill Hospital.
The video posted by Mr McNulty to his Facebook page at 11.15pm shows a row of seven ambulances parked outside the Emergency Department but does not contain any context in relation to the situation.
The MLA’s post read: “Scenes at Daisy Hill tonight. Scary for patients and staff. God bless them all.”
The video was shared by over 4,000 people with 1,200 comments.
Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) have confirmed to this newspaper that the video was in fact recorded between 5.30pm and 7pm on Friday evening.
Average turnaround times at Daisy Hill Hospital at 4.30pm on Friday was 35 minutes and a total of three ambulance crews were at the hospital.
Meanwhile at Craigavon Area Hospital, the average turnaround time was 85 minutes with a total of two ambulance crews leading to an increase of ambulances to Daisy Hill to alleviate the pressures at Craigavon.
A NIAS spokesperson said they were experiencing a high level of demand, responding to 999 calls within the community.
“All ambulance resources are constantly either dealing with patients, en route to hospital or waiting at Emergency Departments to transfer patients to the care of ED staff.
“NIAS will continue to prioritise life-threatening calls and will work with ED colleagues to release ambulances to attend to those patients whose clinical need is immediate.
“Unfortunately, those patients with less urgent clinical needs will face delays in ambulance response.
“We would apologise in advance for those who may have to wait longer but in order to help us protect our resources for life-threatening emergencies we would ask that callers consider options other than calling 999.”
When asked of the time and location of the recording of the video footage, the MLA told the Outlook yesterday afternoon (Monday) that he “thinks it’s from Saturday”.
When asked what kind of message he wanted to put out in the public domain by sharing the video late on Saturday night, Mr McNulty (pictured, right) said: “To be honest, it’s not something I really thought of at great length.”
“My rationale for posting the video is to say to people that we are in a serious situation here and beware, be careful and be cautious.”
The Outlook asked Mr McNulty if he felt he should apologise to his constituents for sharing the video and he replied: “No”.
“I am not going to apologise for posting the video as I am trying to get that message out there that we are in a very tight corner here and we need to be very careful.
“I made a very conscious decision that people need a clear message that there is a very difficult situation we are all in and we must do all we can to protect our health service and protect staff and protect patients as well.”
When asked how videos such as this one may cause a very unwell person with a life-threatening condition to not seek emergency assistance, Mr McNulty added: “I’ve always said all along that if people are in an emergency go to the emergency department.”
Mr McNulty said he would certainly address the video on his social media platform and clear up the issues surrounding the exact circumstances of the situation if that was “necessary to clear up the situation”.
Meanwhile a Southern Trust spokesperson said: “Our hospitals are very busy dealing with high volumes of ill patients.
“We are doing our best to see patients as quickly as possible.
“High levels of Covid-19 are circulating in our local community and this is seriously impacting on all our services – we appeal to everyone to support us by doing all they can to reduce transmission and we ask that once treatment is finished, patients move to more appropriate accommodation, so beds are available for patients needing urgent care.”