Southern HSC Trust faces anger as the re-opening of the ED at Daisy Hill Hospital is delayed.
Frustration is growing amongst residents in the Mourne and surrounding areas with news that the reopening of the Emergency Department (ED) at Daisy Hill Hospital has now been postponed until October writes Laura Barr.
A statement from the Southern Health and Social Care Trust on Friday, 11 September confirmed that the Emergency Department will now reopen on Monday, 19 October.
Over recent weeks, Trust staff have been working closely with the Daisy Hill Pathfinder Group and had planned to reopen the ED on a 24/7 basis by the end of September.
Mournes Sinn Fein Councillor Sean Doran said the news was “extremely disappointing” for residents and that he was “very concerned” by the recent development.
He added: “We were promised an earlier reopening of the Emergency Department and it hasn’t happened.
“People in the Mourne and Newry area are being neglected, yet again.
“There was a recent incident of a mother who had to take her young son all the way to Dungannon to receive medical treatment because there was no out-of-hours service available close by.
“This is completely not acceptable and myself, and other Sinn Fein representatives will be pushing to ensure the Emergency Department is reopened as a matter of urgency.”
Cllr Doran added: “Kilkeel really could benefit from a GP-Out-Of-Hours service.
“It constantly seems like the Mourne area is forgotten about when it comes to important services such as health and education.”
In March, the Department of Health temporarily closed the Daisy Hill ED and staff transferred to Craigavon to run a second (Non Respiratory) Emergency Department as part of the Southern HSC Trust’s response to Covid-19.
Over recent weeks, Trust staff have been working closely with the Daisy Hill Pathfinder Group and had planned to reopen the Department on a 24/7 basis by the end of September.
Explaining the delay, Melanie McClements, Interim Director of Acute Services for the Trust said: “We know that it is hugely disappointing for our staff and local people that we have to postpone the reopening of the ED.
“However, it is absolutely vital that we do everything we can to make sure the hospital is as safe as possible before we reopen.
“Our estates team are working hard to make more space in the ED so that we can comply with social distancing requirements.
“We are creating a bigger waiting area and separate areas inside for paediatrics and to separate respiratory and non-respiratory patients.
“We also need time to open more medical beds throughout the hospital for patients admitted from ED, as the risk of Covid means we can no longer accommodate additional medical patients in our surgical ward, as we previously did.
“There are also new ventilation requirements being installed in the High Dependency Unit so that we can treat patients who may be admitted from ED with Covid and our surgical team are working to ensure they can sustain their increased planned work while responding to emergency patients.”
The Trust spokesperson added: “This has been a very complex and challenging process and we hope to reassure local people by putting these additional measures in place.