The Health and Social Care Board is aware that the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust has been experiencing difficulties in maintaining sufficient medical staffing cover at both Lagan Valley and Downe Hospital Emergency Departments. Despite extensive efforts to sustain services as normal, the Board accepts the Trust’s view that changes to the opening hours at the Lagan Valley and Downe Hospital Emergency Departments are unavoidable.
The Board is working with the Trusts to commission alternative temporary arrangements to ensure that everyone in Northern Ireland, including communities in the greater Lisburn and Downpatrick areas, have access to safe, sustainable and high quality urgent care services.
From the weekend commencing Saturday 4th January 2014, temporary changes to the opening hours of the emergency departments at the Lagan Valley and Downe Hospitals will be commence. From this date they will be open Monday to Friday 8.00am – 8.00pm and closed on Saturdays and Sundays. However, patients will be able to access alternative emergency services. Information about health and social care services in your area can be found at www.nidirect.gov.uk/choosewell
The Board is working very closely with South Eastern, Belfast, Southern, Northern and Ambulance Trusts to ensure that the changes can happen smoothly and safely and any potential disruption to services is minimised. The Board has also asked the South Eastern Trust to take appropriate steps to ensure the local community is fully informed of the temporary arrangements.
On average a total of 28 patients are admitted from the Emergency Departments to the Downe and Lagan Valley Hospitals each weekend. It is expected that at least half of these patients will continue to be admitted directly by GPs thus avoiding Emergency Department attendance. The remainder are expected to be admitted to other hospitals, mainly the Royal Victoria Hospital and Ulster Hospital with very small numbers to Craigavon, Antrim and Daisy Hill Hospitals.
Additional services are being put in place during the transitional period. There will be extra beds in the Royal Victoria Hospital and additional emergency nursing staff at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Ulster Hospital and Craigavon Area Hospital. The number of GPs providing Out of Hours will also be increased in Lisburn and Downpatrick.
The Board and South Eastern Local Commissioning Group will be working with the South Eastern Trust to accelerate plans for the long term future for the Downe and Lagan Valley Emergency Departments.