Northern Ireland news

Daisy Hill Hospital to halt emergency surgeries amid staffing crisis

Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry

DAISY Hill hospital in Newry will halt emergency surgeries from the end of next month amid ongoing staff shortages.

The Southern health trust said that, from February 28, Daisy Hill will only have one permanent general surgeon and there is a "very immediate and major risk for the safety of our service".

Despite repeated advertisements, the hospital has not been able to find surgeons to fill five vacant surgical posts.

The trust said only Craigavon Area Hospital, which has eight surgeons, will be allowed to admit surgical patients until a full consultation on the future of services in the area has been carried out.

The move was agreed at a meeting of the Southern Trust's board yesterday.

The emergency department at Daisy Hill, which cares for more than 4,000 patients every month, will still operate on a 24/7 basis.

Emergency patients who attend Daisy Hill and who need to be admitted for surgery will be transferred to Craigavon.

Planned surgeries will still be carried out at Daisy Hill.

The trust's director of acute services, Melanie McClements, said it had been a challenge to recruit surgeons.

"We cannot maintain a fully responsive emergency surgical service with one permanent surgeon at Daisy Hill," she said.

"With staffing now so stretched across both sites, the safest way of achieving a more equitable service and the best possible outcome for patients is to have all emergency surgical patients admitted to Craigavon."

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

"It has a very busy emergency department and a wide range of very vibrant specialities.

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

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