Number of Covid patients at SWAH drops

WHILE the number of Covid patients at SWAH has fallen dramatically in recent times, the numbers attending the hospital’s Emergency Department (ED) with serious illnesses has increased.

Assistant director of emergency care at the Western Trust, Mark Gillespie, has said while the hospital remains “challenged daily”, with the severity of patients presenting to the SWAH ED increasing, the number of patients being admitted to the hospital with Covid symptoms has reduced significantly.

However, the news was not as positive with regard the emergency attendances.


“SWAH have increased their attendances, and their acuity of these patients has also increased,” he said, referring to the increasingly complex nature of the conditions patients were presenting with.

Mr Gillespie said this had resulted in the ED being “challenged daily in relation ot patients’ access to an inpatient bed.”

“Due to those increase links in stay for the complex patients I just talked about, this remains an area of continued focus for us as a senior management team daily across seven days of the week in the Trust,” he said.

With regard critical care, Mr Gillespie said it remained “a high priority” and senior management and departments held daily meeting to “ensure there is sufficient capacity to manage critical care demands across the system seven days of the week.”

Noting the critical care situation had “de-escalated” in recent days somewhat, with surge levels stepped down, Mr Gillespie said while it was stable at the moment it could “escalate”.

“I think as an organisation we’re very clear that we will continue to do red flag and emergency procedures both as inpatients and day cases for the foreseeable future,” he said. “Those patients require that surgery and that pathway they are currently in, and we have no plans to cease any of that surgical activity.”

Trust chief executive Neil Guckian added that gaps in the Out-Of-Hours GP service, and other issues with regard GP access, did not appear to be impacting number attending the ED, explaining that presentations of less severe illnesses had reduced while more serious illnesses had increased.


“The acute patients are increasing, so people who need to come to hospital, we have evidence to suggest they are coming to hospital and that is entirely appropriate,” said Mr Guckian.

Mr Gillespie added: “Operationally we need with Western Urgent Care on a weekly basis and where they anticipate gaps we bolster the emergency department rotas in line with that, to make sure there is sufficient cover in case there is a significant knock on effect. The working relationship and communication lines are well established there. Where there is gaps we try to support each other.”

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