Trust Moves To Minimise Impact On Patients Following ED Cuts To Hours
Following recent changes involving the weekend closure of Emergency Departments at the Lagan Valley and Downe Hospitals due to medical staffing issues, the Minister requested that the South Eastern HSC Trust and the Health and Social Care Board take action to minimise the impact of these changes on the local populations whilst steps are taken to address the current closure.
A detailed analysis of patients who use the service indicates that at least 50% of all attendances require a minor injuries service. These patients have to travel elsewhere at weekends to access treatment or wait until Monday morning. The Trust wants to move, as soon as is practically possible, to provide nurse led minor injuries services to mitigate the impact of the ED closure at weekends.
The Trust plans to trial a model whereby a minor injuries service led by Emergency Nurse Practitioners (ENPs) will work alongside GP Out of Hours at the weekends, creating an Urgent Care with Minor Injuries Service. The service, which could start as early as March 2014, would be piloted at the Downe, with the GP Out of Hours service, where it is easier to establish as a consequence of the co-location.
In the meantime, the Trust is expanding its Emergency Nurse Practitioner workforce through specialist training and external recruitment. As additional ENPs become available, the Minor Injury service is projected to begin on the Lagan Valley site by October 2014.
Mr Seamus McGoran, Director of Hospital Services, said: “We very much regret having to, at short notice, close the ED’s at weekends, however, this was unavoidable due to the medical staffing problems. It has been our priority to minimise the impact of this on the local populations. The largest numbers of patients affected are those requiring a minor injuries service, who are currently having to travel elsewhere.
“Consequently, we are pleased that we will have a solution which we will initially pilot in the Downe Hospital from March, which will enable those patients to have their treatment locally.” He added: “I would like to reassure people that this is not intended as a permanent solution, but it does enable us to further minimise the impact the forced changes have had on the local populations and is, therefore, very welcome.”
Further details of the exact start dates and how to access the service will be provided in due course.