Thousands of patients make their own way to Altnagelvin

WELL over 1,000 local patients have made their own way to the Altnagelvin emergency department (ED) since the withdrawal of emergency general surgery (EGS) at the SWAH.
When the Trust first announced it was to suspend the EGS service at the SWAH last December, it stated those requiring urgent surgery would be transferred by ambulance to Altnagelvin, or the most appropriate hospital, for treatment.
However, in the months following the withdrawal of the service, the Herald was contacted by and made aware of many SWAH patients who potentially required surgery and had been advised to make the two hour journey to the Derry hospital by their own means.
In recent times both the Council and local campaigners had been calling on the Western Trust to release details of the number of patients transferring to the Derry hospital by their own means. Chief executive Neil Guckian previously stated the Trust did not hold this data.
However, by examining the postcodes of the patients, the Trust has now released a range of figures outlining the number of patients transferring to the Altnagelvin ED, and how they got there.
The figures released by the Trust show more people actually made their own way to Altnagelvin from the local area than were transferred by ambulance.
The figures show that between December and July:
– 952 patients from the Fermanagh and Omagh area arrived at Altnagelvin via ambulance;
– 96 patients were taken to Craigavon hospital via ambulance, and seven were taken to the Royal Hospital for Sick Children;
– 1,381 patients from the local area arrived at Altnagelvin as ‘walk-ins’;
– 506 patients who would previously have been admitted to SWAH for EGS were admitted to Altnagelvin;
– 49 were admitted to other hospitals;
– 24,699 patients attended the SWAH ED, of which a total of 4,818 arrived by ambulance;
– 830 elective procedures were carried out at the SWAH Elective Overnight Centre, 144 of which were patient surgeries.

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