WHILE maternity services and children’s day care services are to remain at SWAH, inpatient paediatric care at the Enniskillen hospital is to be moved to Altnavgelvin temporarily as part of the health service’s plans to ensure it can cope with the ever increasing number of Covid-19 patients across the North.
Earlier this week the Western Trust had said the children’s services were “fine at the moment” but warned this could change due to potential staff shortages, and also because a regional plan was being put in place to free up beds across the North. Today the Department of Health announced that regional plan, which will see children’s inpatient services close at several hospitals across the North and will be implemented in five stages.
The Department has said if the expected surge in coronavirus patients becomes extreme, ALL inpatient paediatric wards in the North will close except those at Altnagelvin and the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.
SWAH, along with Daisy Hill and Causeway hospitals, has been included in stage one of the plan, and will see its inpatient paediatrics closed to deal with the incoming ‘surge.’ Unlike at the Causeway Hospital, maternity services will continue at SWAH, however a small number of neonatal cases may be transferred to Altnagelvin or Craigavon.
The Ulster Hospital will see its inpatient paediatric ward close as part of phase two, while either Antrim or the Craigavon Hospital will close its inpatient paediatric services as part of phase three. Whichever one remains open will then close as part of phase four.
Phase five will be implemented if there is a an “extreme surge” and will see only the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and Altnagelvin remain open for inpatient paediatric care. Staff from other hospitals will be redeployed to these wards.
For more on this story see next week’s Fermanagh Herald.