Northern Ireland

Coronavirus: Two Emergency Departments to shut during pandemic

Daisy Hill ED
Image caption Daisy Hill ED

Two hospital emergency departments (ED) in Newry and Downpatrick are to close temporarily as part of plans to deal with the coronavirus pandemic.

The move by the Southern Health Trust will see staff deployed to care for patients affected by the virus.

The ED at Newry's Daisy Hill Hospital will shut at 14:00 GMT on Saturday, while the Downe Hospital ED closure takes effect at 08:00 BST on Monday.

Craigavon’s emergency department will remain open.

Some of its planned surgical work moving to Daisy Hill.

Maternity services will continue at both Craigavon Area Hospital and Daisy Hill.

Interim director of acute hospitals, Mel McClements described the closure of Daisy Hill ED as "temporary" and said it was "not a decision that had been taken lightly".

“This move allows us to consolidate our emergency, intensive care and respiratory expertise all one site which will give us a much more robust service in the weeks ahead.

“If we don’t work make these changes now, we risk services on both sites collapsing as we expect staffing levels to be impacted in weeks to come."

Additionally at the Downe Hospital, the Minor Injuries Unit Day Procedure and outpatients unit will also temporarily close from 08:00 BST on Monday.

All inpatient wards will remain open and the Downe Midwifery Led Unit will continue to provide community midwifery services, but not birthing.

The GP out-of-hours service will continue to provide services as normal, with the same ability to admit patients although this will be regularly reviewed as overall GP services come under increasing pressure

Acute Mental Health and Psychiatry of Old Age inpatients will also remain open.

Across Northern Ireland, major changes are being made to hospital services as part of plans to deal with the expected surge of patients with Covid-19.

Earlier on Thursday, the Department of Health said general hospital visiting will end for most patients.

Limited exceptions include maternity units and palliative care.

The department set has out its plans to cope with the surge which include urgently discharging all medically fit patients and prioritising patient care.