Northern Trust puts plans in place for winter pressures

The Northern Trust has procedures in place every day to manage any building pressures in the Emergency Departments, hospital wards and community facilities. However, traditionally, urgent and emergency cases rise during the winter with hospitals, GPs and community nursing teams all experiencing increased workloads.

The Northern Trust has put plans in place to ensure both Antrim and Causeway Hospitals and community services are prepared for the additional challenges they face during the winter period.

The Trust have introduced some new services and strengthened current services to help respond to patient’s needs. This includes rapid access to a range of services including community nursing, clinical assessment, diagnostic investigations such as X-ray, laboratory tests, endoscopy and acute outpatients as well as enhanced domiciliary care.

Rapid response teams have been established in the community to provide urgent access, at a GP’s request, to nursing and social support so that patients can be safely treated in their own home. Services provided include urgent blood tests, domiciliary care and carer assessments.

Dr Calum MacLeod, Interim Medical Director for the Northern Trust, said: “The winter period always brings additional challenges for all health and social care staff but it is important that despite this increasing pressure, patients receive the care we would expect for our families and ourselves. The Trust is working hard, and in partnership with other healthcare professionals, to ensure that everyone who requires emergency treatment this winter receives it in a timely manner.”

Waiting times in the Emergency Department have improved considerably as the Northern Trust continues its plan to improve performance in critical areas of service delivery. A whole system approach has been taken to improve the flow of patients through the hospital and enable them to return home as soon as they are well enough.

In preparation for winter, weekend working is also being increased on both hospital sites and in the community to ensure patients continue to flow through the hospital to create capacity for those entering the hospital. Should admissions increase significantly the Trust have plans in place to open a further 14 beds.

Dr MacLeod continued: “As part of its preparation the Trust is also working in partnership with Health and Social Care partners to encourage everyone to Choose Well this winter. The Choose Well campaign asks everyone to think about the range of services available and pick the one most suitable to their need. Choosing the right service for your symptoms means you get the most appropriate treatment from the right professional, and in a lot of cases, this is closer to your own home.”

The Choose Well campaign involves printed materials and advertising asking people to choose between self-care, pharmacy services, GP services, Minor Injuries Units, Emergency Departments and 999.

Patients are encouraged to use the services as suggested so those needing emergency treatment get it as quickly as possible.

• Coughs and colds – visit your pharmacist

• Medical complaints and/or pain – visit your GP

• Cuts/wounds, limb injuries, bites, burns/scalds, eye injuries and chemical splashes – Minor Injury Units in Whiteabbey and Mid-Ulster Hospitals (Mon-Fri, 9-5pm, excluding public holidays)

• Out of hours – Dalriada Doctor on Call

• For life threatening emergencies such as stroke, heart attack and/or severe bleeding that can’t be stopped – visit your Emergency Department or call 999.

Page last updated:12 December 2013