Inpatient care at Daisy Hill hospital ‘at risk’ in general medicine

  • Marie-Louise Connolly
  • BBC News NI Health Correspondent

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Emergency General Surgery to move from Daisy Hill in February 2022

A shortage of consultants at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry is jeopardizing the provision of inpatient care in general medicine.

The Southern Health Trust said it was working with other trusts in Northern Ireland and the Ministry of Health “to get through this situation”.

It was also revealed that the hospital’s stroke services will be suspended from 9:00 am BST on May 31.

This is because the one remaining specialist in the hospital is retiring.

Recruiting and retaining medical staff has become a major problem for hospitals in recent years, according to the trust.

“The increased reliance on health care coverage and the increasing number of consultant medical staff ending their tenure at hospitals have added to the pressure,” he added.

“These challenges are jeopardizing hospital services, such as respiratory and gastroenterology (GI) inpatient care delivery.

“Everything is being pursued to protect the service.”

Southern Trust Chief Executive Dr Maria O’Kane told the BBC’s Evening Extra last year that ‘nine consultants left, six of them in the last three to six months’. rice field.

With only one such medical consultant left, the trust says it cannot staff duty to ensure all services are provided safely.

Senior management said at a trust board meeting on Thursday that it would take at least six months to stabilize the system, but action would need to be taken before the summer vacation, according to people familiar with the matter.

Medical consultants diagnose, admit, and treat patients who may be admitted through the emergency department (ED).

His specialties include cardiovascular disease, respiratory disease, and gastrointestinal disease.

Without that expertise, hospitals cannot reach their full potential.

In the future, people who get sick, including stroke, may have to go to Craigavon ​​Hospital, Ulster Hospital, Royal Victoria Hospital or any hospital in the Republic of Ireland.

It is understood that senior staff will meet with the Hospital of Our Lady of Lourdes in Drogheda.

Stroke Patients to Craigavon

Craigavon ​​Regional Hospital, about a 30-minute drive from Daisy Hill, could take over most of the overflow.

The Trust said that “Daisy Hill lacks substantial stroke consultants” and that “for patient safety reasons the decision was made to refer all acute stroke patients back to Craigavon ​​Regional Hospital. ‘ said.

image source, Getty Images

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The trust said hospitals have faced major problems recruiting and retaining medical staff in recent years.

It said this went into effect at 9am on May 31 and that a similar action was taken in February “due to unforeseen staffing issues.”

Craigavon ​​Regional Hospital frequently reports delays in its emergency department.

The trust has previously described the move as “temporary” and due to ongoing recruitment challenges.

In October, then-Health Minister Robin Swann announced that Daisy Hill Hospital would become a selective overnight stay center.

At the time, he said the center was being established as part of a restructuring of surgical services.

Several clinicians and the public expressed concern about the hospital’s future.

Consultants who have recently retired from Daisy Hill Hospital are retiring, retiring, moving to another hospital in Northern Ireland, or emigrating to the Republic of Ireland.

However, the trust maintains that general emergency surgery, emergency departments and obstetric services are all safe at this time.

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Craigavon ​​Regional Hospital frequently reports delays in its emergency department

The trust said it plans to increase its home acute care services.

In other words, patients who would normally be hospitalized are instead being treated by home clinicians.

Dr Tom Black, president of the British Medical Association (BMA) in Northern Ireland, said the announcement that some services would be withdrawn from Daisy Hill Hospital was “extremely concerning”.

“Acute care services in hospitals appear to be increasingly precarious,” he said.

“Changes due to service disruption benefit both patients and physicians, and destabilize patient services.

“There are ramifications for services at Craigavon ​​Hospital, and further staffing reductions will also affect general practice services in the region, putting unacceptable pressure on various parts of the health service.”

“serious problem”

Dr. Donal Duffin is a longtime Consultant Physician at Daisy Hill Hospital and a member of the Daisy Hill Futures Group.

He said there had been “significant problems” in securing senior staff at the Daisy Hill facility, which he said was an important part of Northern Ireland’s healthcare system.

“At the moment the rest of the staff are doing their best to keep things going as best they can, but without dramatic intervention by the Trust this is not a sustainable situation, but I don’t think it’s enough, I think. I think ‘we need to get the trusts, the health ministry and politicians involved,’ he told BBC News NI.

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Dr Maria O’Kane says medical staff shortage is extremely difficult in Northern Ireland

Dr. O’Kane noted at the trust’s monthly board meeting that a shortage of consultants, difficulty in recruiting specialist and junior physicians, and a “severe over-reliance” on physicians “would make it difficult to meet and provide the demand for acute inpatient care.” It’s a big concern,” he said. Our medical ward secures a stable medical staff. ”

“This situation is by no means unique to Daisy Hill Hospital,” she says.

“The shortage of medical staff is very difficult, not only in Northern Ireland, but also further afield.”

He added that the trust continues to pursue all viable options to minimize the impact of this situation and stabilize its workforce.

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In April, hundreds took part in a protest in Newry over plans to dismantle emergency general surgery at Daisy Hill Hospital.

O’Kane said a meeting involving all trusts will be held next week to “seek help in addressing these challenges.”

He said it was necessary to recognize that medical staffing “has already extended to the Craigavon ​​area and other NI hospitals, so any assistance is likely to be limited.”

“Our initial focus is to stabilize staffing over the summer in anticipation of a more permanent solution,” she said.

“Ensuring patient safety and supporting staff is an absolute priority.

“We are very proud of the care provided by our medical staff working in extremely difficult conditions.”

waiting list

Separately, the number of people on hospital waiting lists in Northern Ireland has been described as “totally unacceptable” by the Permanent Secretary of Health, Peter May.

According to the latest statistics, 401,201 people were waiting for their first outpatient appointment with a consultant in the first quarter of this year.

This is 27,174 more than the same period last year.

The statistic also shows that 81% of patients wait more than nine weeks for their first consultant-led outpatient appointment.

One of the department’s goals was to have at least 50% of patients on the waiting list within nine weeks by March of this year.

However, some progress has been made.

The number of inpatients and outpatients waiting 13 weeks or longer before being admitted for treatment fell from 102,164 at the same time last year to 94,305 at the end of March.

Professor Mark Taylor, director of the Royal College of Surgeons in Northern Ireland (RCS), expressed “grave concern” at the figure.

He said the wait-time figures were a blow to the selective recovery after the Ministry of Health revealed this week it plans to cut £34m from its waiting list programme, citing huge budget pressures. It came out in response to what was done,” he said.

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