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The Southern Trust has invested £140,000 in upgrading oxygen supply across Daisy Hill and Craigavon hospitals.

Oxygen supply at Daisy Hill hospital in Newry is now improved by 250% while Craigavon Area Hospital has increased by 150%

Helen O’Neill, Director of Finance, Procurement and Estates for the Southern Trust explains: “As the COVID-19 pandemic took hold last year, we knew there would be a surge in demand for piped oxygen supplies in both of our acute hospitals.  Early modelling showed that our existing infrastructure would become under huge pressure without careful management and a robust contingency plan.

New Primary Oxygen system installed at Daisy Hill Hospital. Some of the team involved included Tony Davies, Conor Cunningham, Fergal Finnegan and Michael Tumelty all from Estates.
New Primary Oxygen system installed at Daisy Hill Hospital. Some of the team involved included Tony Davies, Conor Cunningham, Fergal Finnegan and Michael Tumelty all from Estates.

“From April 2020, our pharmacy, estates and clinical staff worked closely alongside our oxygen provider BOC, to carefully monitor and manage supply against demand and ensure patient. We also greatly appreciate the support from our colleagues in other Trusts who agreed that BOC could prioritise our work ahead of theirs, due to the increasing pressure on our services and aging infrastructure of our hospitals.”

Melanie McClements, Director of Acute Services continues: “The third surge of the pandemic in January was undoubtedly the most challenging.  In just nine days, community transmission of COVID-19 in the Southern Trust area quadrupled, resulting in five times the hospital admissions that we saw in surge one and oxygen demand increasing by six times normal use.

“Our estates team worked with pharmacy and clinical staff around the clock, installing temporary oxygen storage and portable concentrators to treat as many patients as we safely could.  At our peak, when we reached capacity for oxygen therapy, 79 patients from our area had to be brought to the Mater Hospital in Belfast for their care.”   

Supply across both sites has now been significantly boosted, with an upgrade to liquid oxygen storage and improvements to pipework, greatly increasing capacity to convert to the medical gas used to treat patients.

Daisy Hill has been boosted to 1000 litres of oxygen per minute while Craigavon Hospital can now continuously supply 2000 litres each minute. Oxygen back-up supplies to both hospitals have also been upgraded to ensure the same flow rates should their primary systems be out of use.

Melanie McClements adds: “This upgrade to our system is greatly welcomed by our clinical team and we commend our estates colleagues who worked tirelessly, early mornings and late nights, to avoid any disruption to hospital services throughout the project.

“We are now confident that we have a much more resilient oxygen supply and whilst we hope that we will not reach the position we experienced in January again, our medical team have more options for enhanced oxygen therapy to offer patients the best treatment if needed.” 

Newry & Armagh MLA Liz Kimmins has welcomed the news.
The MLA said “Sinn Féin had been raising concerns regarding oxygen supply to both Daisy Hill and Craigavon hospitals with the Trust. The issue was discussed at our most recent meeting with the Chief Executive Shane Devlin  in February past.

"The supply at both hospitals because of this investment of £140,000 has greatly increased the capacity especially for Daisy Hill hospital.

"Can I echo once again the appreciation of all the community to our healthcare  staff for their commitment to providing professional life saving  services to all”.

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