A review of the impact of the changes to the Emergency Departments at Downe and Lagan Valley Hospitals indicates that the weekend passed without major difficulty.
Whilst all Emergency Departments were busy, as to be expected at this time of year, effective planning helped ensure that the changes at Lagan Valley and Downe Hospital did not have any significant impact on pressures at other hospital sites. The number of patients who waited longer than 12 hours in Emergency Departments on Saturday and Sunday was considerably less than on the same weekend last year – a 79% reduction.
The Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Board John Compton said he fully understood the concerns expressed by the local community at this time, but stressed that a range of measures have been put in place to ensure the local population continue to receive the services they require.
Mr Compton also praised the efforts of doctors, nurses, ambulance staff, GPs and GP Out of Hours staff who continued to ensure the public had timely access to urgent care services over the weekend.
“I would like to thank the public for their forbearance and thank the staff who coped so well over the past weekend. Staff ensured that a range of measures, including extra support for GP Out of Hours in the Lisburn and Downpatrick areas and arrangements for direct admission to hospital via the GP Out of Hours service, worked very well ensuring patients from these areas continued to receive the care they required. Additional nurses were rostered in the Emergency Departments at other hospitals and additional beds opened as part of a planned response to the anticipated increase in activity at other Emergency Departments resulting from the changes.
“The Health and Social Care Board co-ordinated system wide meetings over the weekend to ensure the Health and Social care system responded effectively to the changes.
“I wish to reassure the public that the Health and Social Care Board continues to work with all Trusts, the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service, local GPs and GP Out of Hours staff to ensure that the necessary resources are in place to ensure that all patients continue to have timely accessible emergency care. Whilst the first weekend has gone well there will be no complacency in respect of the future,” he said.
Information about the full range of health and social care services can be found at www.nidirect.gov.uk/choosewell