Lochside Garage

A busy New Year at the A&E as patient numbers soar


The accident and emergency entrance to the South West Acute Hospital. RMGFH21

IT WAS a busy start to 2018 at the Emergency Department of the South West Acute Hospital which, like all hospitals across the North, was inundated during the holiday period.
On December 30 the Western Trust issued a notice on their social media accounts stating there were high numbers of patients attending both the SWAH and Altnagelvin emergency departments, warning people to expect longer than normal waits and urging people to “keep emergency departments for real emergencies.”
The SWAH emergency department had been particularly busy from Thursday 28 onwards, however in other parts of the North the situation was even more hectic, with the Western Trust forced to invoke its “Full Capacity Protocol” at Altnagelvin on the same day.
This allowed the Trust to put up additional beds at the hospital. The status has since though been stepped down.
In a statement issued at the weekend in response to such high patient numbers, the Trust once again urged people to only attend the emergency department in the event of an emergency, and to consider alternatives where possible such as local pharmacies.
They added: “We would also ask families to work with us to enable timely discharge from hospital and reduce issues that cause delays such as choice of interim nursing homes.”
Yesterday, a spokesman for the Trust said, while those who had attended the ED over the weekend had been genuine cases, patients should still be encouraged to attend their pharmacist or GP in non-emergency situations.
On New Years Day, Monday, the Health and Social Care Board (HSC) also issued a statement in response to the ongoing high numbers attending EDs across the North, stating they’d been working with the Western Trust and all other Trusts in response to the situation.
“As part of their plans to manage increased demand at this time of year, Trusts will aim to open as many additional beds as possible and have been contacting any available off-duty staff to provide support to enable extra beds to be opened,” said a HSC spokesman.
“The Department of Health and the HSC have been in contact with Trusts throughout the holiday period and over the weekend and support the efforts of Trusts to increase capacity.”
They added: “We would also like to pay tribute to all HSC staff for their tireless commitment and going the extra mile for patients and service users over the holiday period.”


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