Newry.ie

Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty MLA has said he received reports that two medical staff at Daisy Hill Hospital have tested positive for Covid19. Both are now off work and are self-isolating.

Mr McNulty explained that he was contacted by staff within Daisy Hill Hospital and advised that 2 members of a medical team within a ward had tested positive for Covid19.

"This is a hugely worrying development for staff, patients and families and comes hot on the heels of three separate outbreaks in Craigavon Area Hospital.

"And, on top of the graveness of a potential outbreak in Daisy Hill Hospital, there are also very concerning questions to be asked about how this has been handled.  Whilst the staff members who tested positive are now off work and self-isolating, there are some members of staff on the same ward and indeed patients and their families who have not been advised of this development. No extra cleaning of the ward or wards concerned has taken place.  When staff raised concerns, I am told they were advised that they were ok because they were wearing PPE."

Daisy Hill Hospital. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
Daisy Hill Hospital. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Mr McNulty has spoken with the Chief Executive of the Southern Trust who explained the process the Trust has followed. "I was advised that staff, patients or the public do not need to be informed or traced where they came into contact with the staff members who tested positive if the staff member was suited out in PPE at the time.  This is  concerning and I believe it could add to the anxiety and confusion in our community. I would have thought it would have been prudent and reassuring to test all staff and patients who the staff members came into contact with whether they were wearing PPE or not."

The MLA continued "Daisy Hill has been largely Covid free throughout this pandemic.  In fact, we were told the rationale behind the temporary closure of the hospital’s Emergency Department was to ensure the hospital remained Covid free. Now, just as we are approaching the planned reopening of the Emergency Department later in the month this happens. However, this cannot be allowed to be an excuse not to proceed with reopening Daisy Hill’s ED!"

Mr McNulty added that visiting in Daisy Hill has now been suspended. " I know that some Staff feel let down and they are scared.  We all rightly applauded their efforts on a Thursday evenings for weeks and told them what an incredibly important job they were doing. But now that there is a potential outbreak within their workplace, many of them and their patients have not been informed about the grave situation in their own ward."

The MLA has raised these concerns with the Chief Executive of the Southern Trust and has also written to the Minister. " In the first instance, i believe we need to take whatever steps necessary to identity and test all the staff and patients who may have been exposed.  Secondly, I firmly believe the handling of this potential outbreak should now also be subject to an investigation by the RQIA.  This severity of this situation cannot be left unchecked or unaddressed." said the Newry and Armagh representative.

9am: Newry.ie has asked Southern Trust for a reply.

UPDATE 5pm

In a reply to Newry.ie regarding the reported cases of Covid-19 at Daisy Hill Hospital this week the Southern Trust have released a statement. The statement doesn't mention the  cases involving 2 members of a medical team reported by MLA Justin McNulty.

The statement reads “The Trust will not be commenting on staff who test positive for Covid19. 

 "In general, if a staff member tests positive a range of things will happen, in line with public health guidance. This will include identification of close contacts, testing, self-isolation and cleaning the work environment.

 "This has happened on an on-going basis since March.

 "All cases are reported to the Public Health Agency as per agreed reporting arrangements.”

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