FOLLOWING the report by Down News on the presentation by the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust to the Down District Councul health Committee, the Trust have released further information appealing for the public to recognize that the Downe A&E is open round the clock.
A Trust spokesperson said, “The new night time emergency service at the Downe Hospital has, as expected, made no significant difference to the number of people attending or being admitted. In its first four months of operation, attendances at the Emergency Department are on an even keel while numbers using the enhanced GP Out of Hours service have risen.”
The figures were given to Down District Council Health Committee during a presentation by the Trust. Almost the same number of patients are attending the Emergency Department, but they are doing so during the new opening hours of 8am – 10pm. More people are using the enhanced GP Out of Hours service which takes over at 10pm through to 8am.
“There has been a very slight decline in hospital admissions, but this may also be due also to seasonal factors. As expected, 97% of attendances are unaffected and on average there is one emergency transfer to a Belfast hospital at night. The expected figure was 1- 2.
Dr Michael Johnston, GP, who works in the Out of Hours service said, “There was initial anxiety but the GP’s and the emergency medical staff have come together as one team. What we have created is a novel, sustainable service which will serve this population into the future. The enhanced GP Out of Hours service is very good for the area – we are now treating a lot of children who were not brought to us before.
“There is an impression in the area that the hospital is closed at night and it is vital to get the message out that it is open all hours. Every household should have a leaflet with the telephone number for easy access – (028) 9260 2204.
Dr Johnston further added, “I would urge people to phone the GP Out of Hours number, and seek advice. If it is a full emergency and people dial 999, they will be taken directly to Belfast. However, if they phone us and we make the decision the patient can be treated here, then we can send an ambulance to bring them to the Downe.
“We have had very positive feedback from people in the area who have used the service, but it is important that people know we are there and that they use the service,” added Dr Johnston.