Delays as pressures mount at the SWAH

THERE have been calls for “immediate intervention” to help the local health service cope with the perfect storm of delayed discharges and staff shortages that is leading to a clogged up system at the SWAH.

While Covid-19 is continuing to challenge our health service, particularly regarding the staff shortages in some areas, it appears pressure from the long predicted health needs of our ageing population is finally being felt. As winter begins to bite, this is now resulting in bed shortages and long waiting times at the hospital’s emergency department (ED).

The Western Trust has revealed local ED patients are now presenting with ever more complex conditions at the SWAH, and often require hospital admission. Yet beds cannot be freed up in a timely manner due to difficulties in securing care packages for patients who are medically fit for discharge.


The result is a vicious cycle of beds being blocked up at SWAH as more and more patients need them.

Trust chief executive Neil Guckian last week appealed to families to help unblock beds at the hospital by facilitating the discharge of many older patients who are medically fit to go home, but who need additional care when they do.

As part of this appeal, Mr Guckian asked families to initially accept the first place at a care home that is made available to them, even if it is not the home of their choice.

Mr Guckian also issued an apology to families, explaining the Trust can not currently offer everyone who needs one a home care package due to ongoing staff shortages.

“I want to also apologise that we are not able to address domiciliary care demand in all cases at this time, for staffing reasons,” he said, adding the Trust was still delivering thousands of home care packages each day.

Cllr Donal O’Cofaigh has called for “immediate intervention” to address the problem.

“It’s very concerning. It’s obvious the lack of such care packages is causing huge pressures on the available beds in the hospital itself, and this is placing even more pressures on frontline services, and the staff delivering them,” he said.


“So it’s massively concerning and we need to see immediate intervention.

“We saw the Drumclay Nursing Home project, which was an issue that tried to address this, but inexplicably that was just abandoned, and we have to ask why the Western Trust has not taken a similar initiative at this critical juncture.”

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