The Southern Health and Social Care Trust has released a statement explaining that they will be reopening the Emergency Department at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry when they can be "assured that it is safe to do so"

Shane Devlin, Chief Executive of the Trust spoke today of how they could proceed towards a restoration of local services and explained that Covid-19 is still a significant issue.

Newry and Armagh Sinn Féin  MLA Liz Kimmins had written to the trust seeking a meeting and Ms Kimmins and colleague Mickey Brady, MP are expecting to meet with Mr Devlin on Tuesday coming to discuss the restoration of local services including the Emergency Department.

The MLA said,“We understand that the Covid-19 pandemic has impacted on local Health & Care services, most in our communities have accepted and supported this. However it is now time to move to the planning of the restoration of these services”.

Ms Kimmins continued,“Access to Emergency Department  services in Daisy Hill should be reinstated as soon as possible.It is important that the planning for this should be a matter of priority for the Southern Health & Social Care Trust.We hope at our meeting with the senior management of the Trust this Tuesday 26th May, to be updated by them  on their engagement with Pathfinder Groups as to their proposals for the return of  local urgent and emergency care services”.

A sign at Daisy Hill Hospital warns that Daisy Hill Emergency Department is closed. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/
A sign at Daisy Hill Hospital warns that Daisy Hill Emergency Department is closed. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/

In his statement today the Trust CEO said “We will be reopening access to emergency medicine in Daisy Hill Hospital, but the issue is timing. We need to be assured that it is safe to do so.

“Covid-19 is still a significant and serious issue for health and social care. While thankfully cases are currently decreasing, it still is circulating in our community and that will be the major consideration on any decisions on the future restoration of services. We are still treating Covid-19 patients in our hospitals on a daily basis and this remains a huge operational challenge. This will not change in the foreseeable future."

Mr Devlin continued “The majority of our services necessitate close contact with patients and clients. Having to be socially distanced is impacting, and will impact, on every level of our service delivery. Patient-facing services will require staff to wear protective equipment (PPE) to carry out their duties for the foreseeable future – this represents a major delivery challenge.

“As part of a regional approach we are urgently reviewing our services to see how we can re-build safe care given the fundamental change in how society is currently affected. We are developing plans to rebuild services but Covid-19 remains a threat and this limits what we can do in our hospitals. We recognise that the Newry and Mourne community are anxious for the return of their urgent and emergency care services and we are working on how this can be safely provided, both for patients and staff. This will be a complex and challenging process."

Engagement with the Daisy Hill Hospital Pathfinder group is also underway. 

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