Emergency departments at Daisy Hill and Downe hospitals to close amid coronavirus outbreak

The emergency department at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry is to close temporarily. Picture by Pacemaker

THE emergency departments at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry and Downe Hospital in Downpatrick are to close amid the coronavirus outbreak.

Health authorities yesterday said Craigavon Area Hospital will run the only emergency department in the Southern Trust Health and Social Care Trust.

It said it was a "temporary measure to deal specifically with Covid-19".

The unit at Daisy Hill will shut tomorrow from 2pm, while the Downe Hospital A&E will close from 8am on Monday with the minor injuries unit, day procedure unit and outpatients' department also shutting at the same time.

The closure at Daisy Hill comes just hours after former health minister Jim Wells said he had been informed by a health service employee that the unit would shut.

In a statement yesterday, the Southern Trust said it was "making changes to hospital services in anticipation of an increase in patients with COVID-19 in hospital".

Interim director of acute hospitals, Mel McClements said: "To ensure the safety of staff and patients, we have taken the essential decision to run one emergency department, which will be at Craigavon Area Hospital.

"This means a temporary closure of Daisy Hill's emergency department, effective from 2pm on Saturday March 28.

"This is not a decision we have taken lightly, but these are exceptional circumstances.

"This move allows us to consolidate our emergency, intensive care and respiratory expertise all on one site which will give us a much more robust service in the weeks ahead.

"If we don't work make these changes now, we risk services on both sites collapsing as we expect staffing levels to be impacted in weeks to come."

"Other services will continue. Some planned surgical work will be moving from Craigavon to Daisy Hill.

"Maternity services will be continuing on both sites, although some routine/low risk patients may have their care transferred to Daisy Hill. Patients affected by these changes will be contacted directly.

"Daisy Hill Hospital emergency department is a key part of our service provision.

"This is a temporary measure to deal specifically with Covid-19. Please be assured that this service will re-open once the immediate situatio." improves."

A spokeswoman for the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust said the closure of several departments at the Downe Hospital would allow it to ensure staff are properly prepared to fight the impact of the coronavirus.

"As we prepare for what will be the biggest challenge we have ever faced, the trust needs to reshape its hospitals and other services on a temporary basis," she said.

"This will maximise our ability to manage the surge in demand for services due to COVID-19."

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