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Enhancing Emergency and Urgent Care Services this Winter


The Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and Public Health Agency (PHA) are working with Trusts, Primary Care, and other key partners to enhance emergency and urgent care services over the winter period.

The HSCB has invested over £10m to improve patient flow; support increased diagnostic capacity and allied health professional support seven days a week; and develop dedicated minor injuries streams in the five main Emergency Department sites – (RVH, Craigavon, Altnagelvin, Ulster & Antrim sites).

The benefits of this investment include:

In addition, £8 million has been invested as part of winter plans to support capacity in a number of areas including: increasing staffing and services at key times; further increasing diagnostic capacity; additional bed capacity; additional domiciliary care nursing home placements; additional GP surgeries in hours; and additional clinical capacity in the GP Out of Hours service.

The winter plans will be supported by dedicated escalation plan arrangements in Trusts. These arrangements will be activated when there is significant pressure on the system, whether in winter or at any other time during the year. These plans may include opening new beds and bringing in additional staff, or postponing some elective surgery for a short period of time.

Chief Executive of the HSCB Valerie Watts said:

“There are plans in place across the HSC to prepare for this winter, as well as for the longer term, and a significant amount of work is ongoing to address the longstanding, complex issues and pressures facing our system.

“This includes working closely with the Trusts and other key partners to develop new pathways like ‘Acute Care at Home’ to prevent people from attending hospital in the first place. However, when people do need to be admitted to hospital, we are working to ensure their journey through the whole system and into the community is as simple, safe and straightforward as possible.”