A spokesperson for the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust said that the Trust has put in place arrangements to assist in dealing with the spread of the Coronavirus (Covid-19).
In recognition of the expected rise in cases across NI, the Trust is down turning non -urgent activity. This will include non- urgent consultant-led outpatient appointments, day cases and inpatient and diagnostic work. This downturn will allow staff to focus on preparations and the training required to care for COVID -19 suspected and confirmed cases. It will also ensure that sufficient capacity is released to address any increase in demand for services.
The spokesperson said: “Currently, only non- urgent outpatients, day case, inpatient and diagnostic services will be reduced. Any suspect cancer or urgent episodes of care will continue.
“Patients whose appointments have been cancelled will have received a telephone call or a letter. If patients have not been contacted, they should attend their appointment as normal. The Trust will provide updates on its website and social media.
“Given the particular risks from Coronavirus, hospitals and other providers have to prioritise the safety and wellbeing of patients and staff. People with underlying health problems are at particular risk, which is why hospital environments and care homes need to take particular care. We are asking members of the public to adhere to the following advice:
- Attend Emergency Department or Outpatients either alone, or only accompanied by one adult.
- One adult visitor per day only, unless in exceptional circumstances and following discussion with the ward sister or equivalent.
- Do not visit if you are unwell yourself.
- Wash your hands thoroughly with soap and water before and after visiting and use the hand sanitiser gel provided.
- Ask yourself if your visit is essential.
- Check in advance and follow any localised arrangements which hospitals and other care settings have put in place.
“We accept that for many families and patients, visits are an essential and important to patient wellbeing.
“Our Switchboard is extremely busy with calls about Coronavirus. If you have concerns, please DO NOT telephone the Trust, here is what to do:
- If you are concerned about Coronavirus, please visit: www.publichealth.hscni.net
- If you are concerned about your recent travel history, please contact the NHS Helpline service by dialling 111
- If you have a high temperature and/or a new dry persistent cough, stay at home and self-isolate for 7 days
- Call your GP if you cannot cope with your symptoms at home, if your condition gets worse or if your symptoms do not get better after 7 days
- In a medical emergency, dial 999 and highlight your symptoms.
Reassuring the public that the Trust has plans in place to tackle the virus, Monica Merron, Infection Prevention & Control Lead said: “This is changing very rapidly and is putting significant pressure on the organisation, but the Trust has a strong plan and a good structure to try and build and use our staff effectively.
“It is important that people keep their hands away from their face, their hands are what will infect them through eyes, nose and mouth’. She added: “When people are in public, avoid dense gatherings of people and crowds, which is particularly important to older people.
“There will be two set types of cases, those who get a flu like illness and are fit to look after themselves at home, and those who will require hospital care and admission.”