Northern Ireland

Life-saving treatment at north's first Day Procedure Centre to increase under pilot scheme

Patients James Walker and Anne May with lead nurse Ann Kerrin at Lagan Valley Hospital's Day Procedure Centre.
Patients James Walker and Anne May with lead nurse Ann Kerrin at Lagan Valley Hospital's Day Procedure Centre. Patients James Walker and Anne May with lead nurse Ann Kerrin at Lagan Valley Hospital's Day Procedure Centre.

A pilot scheme at Lagan Valley Hospital will see the number of potentially life-saving procedures, including endoscopies for patients right across the north, increased.

The hospital in Lisburn houses the north's first Day Procedure Centre, which opened in 2020, and a new pilot scheme will see evening lists at the site introduced to increase the number of patients treated.

The South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust has marked its 1000th suspect cancer endoscopy procedure at the centre since the service began there in November of last year.

The site allows patients from across Northern Ireland to travel for procedures they would otherwise wait much longer for within their own health trust area.

Almost 73 per cent of the north's population lives within a 60-minute drive of the centre.

The new pilot scheme is being launched as demand for endoscopy grows at an "exceptional rate", the South Eastern Trust said.

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The increased demand is linked to the growing elderly population and an emphasis on early diagnosis for diseases including bowel cancer.

Department of Health permanent secretary Peter May praised the "outstanding effort and achievement" of the team at the centre in marking the recent milestone of 1000 endoscopy procedures.

"The continued increase in endoscopy provision at Lagan Valley Hospital over the summer will provide a welcome boost to our health service when it is most needed. Congratulations to all involved in making this a success," he said.

Endoscopy patient James Walker is among those whose condition was spotted after being referred to the centre.

"The diagnosis was a shock to me, but the staff in the centre were absolutely fantastic, they reassured me and made me feel at ease," he said.

"Thanks to them, I am still on my feet. Without the procedure to diagnose my bowel cancer, I would not be here today.”

Assistant director for elective services, Christine Allam, said: “I am so very proud of all the staff involved in this fantastic service. Everyone has shown commitment and enthusiasm to ensure it is established and is now providing a timely and safe service for the people of Northern Ireland.

She added: "There is robust evidence to show that concentrating some specialised procedures on a smaller number of hospital sites, separated from emergency care, means more patients can be treated.”

The north's second Day Procedure Centre opened at Omagh Hospital last year.