The 'promised' September opening of the Daisy Hill Hospital Emergency Department has been delayed till October. Trust management have said that the change is unrelated to reports of a number of positive Covid cases within the hospital, but is as a result of delays in completing necessary building works to the Emergency Department.

In a statement the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said they plan to reopen 19 October. The trust say they will confirm the reopening in the weeks beforehand but political representatives have expressed their dismay.

MLA Liz Kimmins who met the Trust today expressed her disappointment to them at todays news.

“During what has been a very difficult time for everyone, we relayed the ongoing and serious erosion of public confidence in the Trust on this issue and stated the need for them to hold firm to this date to ensure this vital service returns to Daisy Hill. No further delay is acceptable." said Ms Kimmins adding "The Trust stated that they were entirely committed to the Emergency Department reopening in full as soon as it is possible to do so. Sinn Féin will continue to hold them to this commitment.”

A sign of the times! - Daisy Hill Emergency Department will remain closed till 19 October at the earliest. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
A sign of the times! - Daisy Hill Emergency Department will remain closed till 19 October at the earliest. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

MLA Justin McNulty also added "This is disappointing news. Whilst it is a three week delay, we cannot allow this to slip any further. Newry, South Armagh and South Down need Daisy Hill's ED to be fully operational as soon as possible. I do note that the delay is to facilitate additional capital works to create a larger waiting area and separate areas for paediatrics, respiratory and non-respiratory patients as well as works to install new ventilation equipment in the HDU. This work is welcome and the date set for reopening our Emergency Department on 19th October cannot be pushed out any further."

In March, the Emergency Department at Daisy Hill temporarily closed and staff transferred to Craigavon to run a second (Non Respiratory) Emergency Department as part of the Southern Trust response to COVID-19.

Explaining the delay in a media release 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 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."

Ms McClements added “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.

“This has been a very complex and challenging process and we hope to reassure local people by putting these additional measures in place. We remain committed to reopening the Department as soon as we feel we can safely treat those patients who attend.”

Surgical Care

Also at today's the meeting, Mickey Brady MP raised the prospect of surgical care being reduced once the Emergency Department reopens. Speaking after the meeting Mickey said “I raised the stark concerns of local people that surgical care may be affected going forward. Daisy Hill Hospital is an incredible resource with agrowing positive reputation, including in surgical care. The trust gave us a firm commitment to guaranteeing surgical care around the clock going forward.”

The Newry Armagh MP concluded “We conveyed our ongoing gratitude for the work being done by all hospital staff during these extremely difficult times.”


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