Coronavirus: Maternity services Causeway Hospital to stop

By Catherine Smyth
BBC News NI

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The delivery of babies at Causeway Hospital in Coleraine will stop during the expected coronavirus surge.

It is part of the plan for dealing with children’s and maternity services while freeing up bed space.

It goes alongside the critical care surge plan which will see Belfast City Hospital tower block become Northern Ireland’s first Nightingale Hospital.

Children’s and maternity services will be temporarily reconfigured to release 130 beds during the surge.

Women booked in Causeway over the coming weeks will be transferred to Antrim or Altnagevlin.

Step one – which will free up about 50 adult beds - will begin in the coming days and will see the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) in Enniskillen, Daisy Hill in Newry, and Causeway Hospitals close their inpatient paediatric wards.

Ambulatory services will remain on all sites.

Cover for deliveries and the neonatal unit in Daisy Hill will continue. Maternity services are unaffected.

Deliveries will continue in SWAH, but any newborns requiring neonatal admission will be transferred to Altnagelvin in Londonderry or Craigavon in County Armagh.

Reduction in inpatient paediatric services

A plan of further steps will only be implemented at appropriate stages and depending on the level of surge on services

This regional plan has been agreed with all trusts and paediatric units and has been developed with paediatricians and children’s nurses from across Northern Ireland.

image captionThe Causeway Hospital will not offer maternity services during the expected coronavirus surge

It is designed to protect children’s services and make sure babies and children who need urgent or emergency care are able to receive it from suitably qualified and experienced paediatric staff in a timely way.

While the plan includes a temporary reduction in inpatient paediatric services, each acute hospital will continue to have senior consultant paediatricians located in their facilities to assess and treat acutely unwell children.

Temporary measures

The temporary measures are also designed to protect highly specialised paediatric services which are only available in the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, and make sure they can continue even if many staff are absent because of illness.

This is to make sure children in Northern Ireland can continue to access highly specialised and life-saving services such as Paediatric Intensive Care throughout the surge.

Maternity services in Daisy Hill, South West Acute, Craigavon, Altnagelvin, Antrim, the Ulster and the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital (RJMH) will continue.

There will be daily monitoring and communication across the paediatric network during the surge to ensure there is enough paediatric capacity to deliver safe urgent and emergency care for children.

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