THOSE attending the Emergency Department (ED) at the SWAH are being urged to be patient, as the hospital continues to deal with extremely high patient numbers.
Over the past couple of weeks the Western Trust has issued a number of public appeals for people to only attend the local ED in the event of a medical or mental health emergency. For example, on Monday this week the Trust said there were 46 people waiting to be seen in the SWAH ED, with 19 people waiting on admission to the hospital.
Indeed the SWAH hit the headlines last week when it was reported a patient at the hospital had spent than three days on a trolley awaiting admission, believed to be one of the longest delays in all of the NHS.
However, while the Trust would not comment on the case for patient confidentiality reasons, the Herald understands that particularly case was not typical of the waits most patients are experiencing.
When contacted about the continued high numbers attending the ED, and the long waits they are experiencing, a Trust spokesman asked the public to be patient.
“Our Emergency Departments at the South West Acute Hospital and Altnagelvin Hospital have been extremely busy over the past number of weeks as is the case regionally. We have urged members of the public to attend only if they have a medical or mental health emergency,” they said.
“Please only come to the Emergency Department if you have a medical or mental health emergency.
“Please find suitable alternative healthcare options available to you, such as your community pharmacy or GP Out of Hours.”
The spokesman urged anyone attending the ED to come alone, although one parent can accompany a child and a carer can accompany a vulnerable adult. Those attending must also wear a mask and adhere to Covid guidance while at the hospital.
Aside from those experiencing an immediate medical emergency, such as chest pains or stroke symptoms, who should call an ambulance straight away, those attending the SWAH ED are asked to use the ‘Phone First’ service. Before attending call 0300 020 6000 or text 0870 240 5152.
Covid is understood to be playing part in pressures facing the hospital, with 28 inpatients being treated for the virus at the time of going to print, two of whom were in the intestive care unit (ICU). However, Covid patients are not admitted via the ED, so this does explain the rise in numbers seeking treatment at the department.
While the Trust would not comment on the situation regarding GP access, as general practice is not in its remit, anecdotally, some patients have told the Herald delays in getting a GP appointment forced them to seek emergency care for their conditions.
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