Altnagelvin hospital: Trust implements 'full capacity' plan

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The Western Trust has implemented its Full Capacity Protocol at Altnagelvin Hospital

Londonderry's Altnagelvin Hospital has implemented a plan to cope with a rise in the number of patients attending its Emergency Department (ED).

The Western Health Trust introduced its "Full Capacity Protocol" on Thursday.

The plan aims to speed up patient assessment and treatment and allows additional hospital beds to be opened.

The trust said patients at the hospital have been waiting longer to be seen because of an influx of people attending the ED.

'Increased demand'

A spokesperson said both its acute hospitals - Altnagelvin and Enniskillen's South West Hospital - were "very busy throughout the day and into the evening on Thursday 28 December."

"The trust invoked its Full Capacity Protocol at Altnagelvin Hospital to manage the increased demand there.

"The Full Capacity Protocol is put in place when the Emergency Department is at capacity and patients are waiting longer than we would like."

The spokesperson said the "protocol allows us to escalate (patients) to wards i.e. put up additional beds within the hospital."

"This ensures that we can move patients in a timely manner to more appropriate areas for their treatment and care," the spokesperson added.

'Extraordinary measures'

SDLP health spokesperson Mark H Durkan said it was vital people only attended the ED if it was absolutely necessary.

"Obviously the trust has found itself in the situation where they are filled to capacity and where they have had to take extraordinary measures.

"I am assured they are doing all they can to ensure patients are seen as quickly as possible," he said.

On Wednesday the trust urged the public "to choose the right service" before attending the ED and said demand for services was higher over Christmas than in previous years.

Earlier this week it was also revealed that patients needing to see a doctor out-of-hours in the Southern Health Trust area were waiting up to 34 hours over the Christmas period.