COVID-19 Surge plans
The Department of Health released further details of surge plans on Friday 3 April. These focus on a reconfiguration of paediatric and maternity services.
The Northern Trust has, over recent weeks, been engaged both regionally and locally as part of a HSC system effort in planning for an anticipated surge in patients becoming ill with COVID-19 infection across Northern Ireland. It is recognised from worldwide and UK national data that children are on average relatively mildly affected by COVID infection and will therefore require only a small proportion of the overall population demand for hospital treatment; conversely the need for adult hospital beds is likely to be significantly higher than the supply currently available.
As a result a region-wide plan has been developed to implement a temporary reconfiguration of inpatient paediatric and maternity services in response to COVID-19 surge. This plan has been regionally agreed and aims to consolidate inpatient services for women and children in the Northern Trust. Our plan centres on pooling staffing to ensure continued provision of safe, high quality care across both maternity and paediatric services.
As part of this regional plan within the Northern Trust, the inpatient paediatric ward at Causeway Hospital will temporarily close to admissions with effect from Thursday 9 April 2020. Children requiring a hospital stay will be managed in the Children’s Ward of Antrim Area Hospital. Children’s short stay assessments will still take place in Causeway Hospital Monday to Friday 9am -10pm and Saturday and Sunday 12-6pm.
Due to the changes outlined in paediatric cover in Causeway Hospital, we have taken a decision to temporarily change the maternity services offered on the Causeway Hospital site. As an interim measure all inpatient maternity services will now be provided at Antrim Area Hospital. This includes any unscheduled attendances for pregnancy concerns, for labour and birth (this includes caesarean sections) and postnatal stay. The Causeway Maternity Unit will continue to provide outpatient antenatal care Monday to Friday 9am-5pm. Community midwifery across the Trust continues in the antenatal and postnatal period.
Staff will be redeployed as necessary within the Trust to support reconfigured services.
Inpatient paediatric wards in Daisy Hill Hospital, Newry and the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) in Enniskillen will also close in what is step one of the five-step regional plan. The temporary reconfiguration will free up to 130 bed spaces during extreme surge in acute hospitals across the region. Around 50 adult bed spaces could be made available in the coming days when step one is implemented, approximately 13 of which would be in Causeway Hospital.
There may subsequently be further consolidation of paediatric inpatient services onto fewer sites in a step-wise fashion, depending on daily review of hospital demand across the region and ongoing staff availability (for further details see the DOH press release ‘Plans in Place to Protect Children’s and Maternity Services’, dated 03 April 2020).
Please note that as of Thursday 9 April, Paediatric support will only be available in Causeway Hospital from 9am – 9pm Monday to Friday and 12 Noon – 5pm on Saturdays and Sundays. There will be no on-site paediatricians outside of these times so anyone with concerns should contact GP Out of Hours or attend the Emergency Department at Antrim Area Hospital.
Earlier surge plans
20th March 2020