Ambulance divert from Craigavon Hospital, for all but life-threatening emergencies, resumes this morning

An ambulance divert from Craigavon Hospital, for all but life-threatening emergencies, and which was stood down last night, has now resumed.

By Carmel Robinson
Monday, 15th November 2021, 3:11 pm

A spokesperson for the Southern Health Trust said the diversion of ambulances from Craigavon was stood down last night at 10am.

However the divert has just been resumed as pressure builds this morning at the beleagured hospital.

This afternoon a Trust spokesperson said: ““Craigavon Area Hospital remains extremely busy. There are currently 64 people in our Emergency Department and many are experiencing long waits

“The hospital is very full and there are currently 27 patients waiting for a bed on a ward.

“Our resources are under enormous strain as the number of Covid-19 patients continues to rise significantly.

“Many patients are waiting a long time in the Emergency Department.

“Our exhausted staff continue to go above and beyond to care for very ill patients.

“It is absolutely vital that patients help keep themselves and others safe by: wearing a mask, washing hands, getting vaccinated, staying apart and leaving the hospital immediately when medically fit for discharge.”

Yesterday the Southern Health Trust said Craigavon Hospital was under ‘extreme pressure’ and ‘full to capacity’ for the second weekend in a row.

The Trust also asked any available staff to work on Sunday evening so that the hospital could open additional beds.

A spokesperson for the Southern Trust said yesterday (Sunday): “Craigavon Area Hospital is under extreme pressure - we are at full capacity, there are long waits in our Emergency Department and high numbers of Covid-19 inpatients.

“We have taken the decision that ambulances will be diverted to hospitals elsewhere in the region - only in immediate life threatening situations will ambulances be going to CAH.

“We have taken the decision in the interests of patient safety and ask for your support. Please do not attend ED in CAH unless you need immediate help and do not request an ambulance unless in an emergency. Huge thanks to our HSC colleagues for their support.

“Any staff available this evening to work please contact patient flow team - will enable us to open additional beds.️

Meanwhile the NI Ambulance Service said: “While NIAS seeks to support the Southern Trust to alleviate pressures at Craigavon Area Hospital, we will continue to prioritise the most seriously ill to ensure they receive the quickest response possible.

“This will however lead to longer response times, especially for those calling with less serious complaints.

“NIAS apologises for this delay and asks that the public only calls 999 when absolutely essential.”

Upper Bann MP Carla Lockhart said: “Over the weekend we witnessed the most extreme pressure on our A&E Department at Craigavon Area Hospital. First and foremost, I want to thank the front-line staff who were working under the most challenging conditions. They are worn out, mentally and physically exhausted, yet continue to deliver the best possible care for those in need.

“We all have a responsibility to do what we can to alleviate these pressures. With an increase in COVID inpatients, the message must be to follow all guidance and regulations to try to reduce transmission of the virus. Social distancing, face masks, and of course vaccination and booster jabs can all help to reduce the COVID cases in our community. We can all help in this regard by doing the right thing.

“We also need people to avail of the ‘Phone First’ system, and ring ahead before attending A & E. This can help direct patients to the most appropriate care for their health need and ensure those attending A & E are those who need to attend A & E, rather than a GP or other service.

“I would also encourage the Trust to see what they can do to address public frustration with access to some GPs and out of hours services. These services are vital in keeping people away from Accident and Emergency, but for this to be effective we need to see easier access to the family doctor in practices where this is proving difficult, and out of hours.

“Working together the public and the Trust, with the right support from the Department of Health, can overcome these challenges but we need to all do what we can to help. We owe it to the staff to do this and to ease the pressures on our health service as soon as possible. I plan along with DUP colleagues Diane Dodds MLA and Jonny Buckley MLA to meet the Trust in the coming days to discuss how this collaborative approach can be actioned.”

Upper Bann MLA Diane Dodds said: “I am deeply concerned at the situation at Craigavon Area Hospital.

“I want to offer my support to all the frontline workers who have been on duty in Craigavon Hospital across the last 72 hours. Their skill, integrity, dedication and commitment to their patients is unparalleled.

“Our frontline workers have been a source of strength to our communities throughout the Covid pandemic.

“This developing situation is a stark reminder that our Health Service is in need of some urgent Emergency Care.

“For each of us, the NHS has been with us at our most vulnerable moments in life. It is incumbent upon us now as leaders to be there for it.

“I alongside party colleagues am meeting with the Southern Health & Social Care Trust this afternoon to discuss this crisis.

“I encourage all the constituents of Upper Bann to avail of the ‘Phone First’ system and ring ahead before attending A&E.”

Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly said: “The pressures at Craigavon Area Hospital and across the Southern Trust are causing fear within the local community. Since the news broke on Sunday evening I have spoken with people who are concerned they will be unable to access treatment and are unsure of what steps to take in the event of an emergency.

“The situation we are seeing unfold across our health service is a direct result of a failure from Sinn Féin and the DUP to introduce measures like vaccine certifications to ease the pressure on our health service. Our beleaguered health staff have warned time and time again about what would happen this winter, the pressures have arrived earlier than usual and our hospitals are already at breaking point.

“This situation is not solely due to the coronavirus pandemic. The Southern Trust area has suffered as a result of long-term neglect and a lack of investment. Many promises have been made over the years and none of them have materialised. Nearly five years ago then Health Minister Michelle O’Neill announced plans for a new £450m hospital on the site of Craigavon Area Hospital, subject to Department of Finance approval. Despite Sinn Féin controlling the finance ministry ever since we have yet to see any movement on these proposals.

“This week myself and SDLP colleagues will be pushing Health Minister Robin Swann on what he plans to do to ensure that everyone in the Southern Trust area can access the care they need. It’s extremely regrettable we have got to this point and urgent action is required to ensure the situation doesn’t get any worse.”




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