NI hospital temporarily withdraws emergency surgery over recruitment challenges

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Emergency general surgery is to be temporarily withdrawn at a hospital in Northern Ireland from the end of next month due to ongoing recruitment challenges.

The “interim” measure at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry from February 28 will see services delivered at Craigavon Area Hospital instead.

The change will impact a range of operations including appendix, gall bladder and hernia.

The Southern Trust said Daisy Hill’s Emergency Department will continue to operate a 24/7 service.

A Southern Health Trust board meeting on Thursday morning heard that despite repeated recruitment processes, just two out of six general surgical consultant posts at Daisy Hill have been filled.

One of only two general surgeons working on the hospital site has resigned and is due to leave their post at the end of next month.

In a statement, the Trust said that Daisy Hill’s Emergency Department remains “absolutely essential” in meeting the unscheduled care needs of the local population, with the team seeing more than 400 patients a month.

Director of Acute Services, Melanie McClements said the Trust’s “hand had been forced”, BBC News NI reports.

“It is not sufficient for us to deliver a safe service in Daisy Hill and therefore we have had to come up with an interim model that will allow us to actually move how we deliver our emergency surgical services from the 28th February,” she said.

“All emergency surgical patients at that stage, we will be required to have them as inpatients at Craigavon Hospital.

“In parallel, we will have a planning group that progresses the future service model and moving towards the public consultation of what a sustainable model will look like going forward.”

Southern Trust chief executive Shane Devlin said it was a short-term measure in a bid to improve patient safety.

“I think without fail this is the right thing to do, the only thing to do to sustain services in the Southern Trust but more importantly to keep our patients safe, which we can all agree on this screen is a fundamental reason to have a health and social care trust, is to keep our patients safe.”

Ms McClements added: “I want to assure local people that Daisy Hill remains an essential part of the Southern Trust hospital network.

“We aim to maintain the acute status of Daisy Hill through this process, whilst securing and enhancing its elective capacity.”

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