Emergency Department ‘running hot’ with Christmas expected to inflate pressures

Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc
Craigavon Area Hospital. INLM02-110gc

Craigavon Hospital’s Emergency Department is ‘running hot’ and is expected to get even busier over Christmas, warned Ulster Unionist MLA Doug Beattie.

Urging potential visitors to think twice before attending, Mr Beattie revealed that a top hospital official admitted to ‘a serious staffing problem’ - though no department would be understaffed over the holidays.

Mr Beattie said: “At a meeting with Esther Gishkori - the Director of Acute Services at Craigavon Area Hospital - I was struck both by her and her teams professionalism and their honesty.

“The hospital is running hot – a term used to mean that is always busy and is expecting and preparing to be even busier over the holiday period. Having admitted they also have a serious staffing problem – not through the lack of funding but through the lack of individuals and training places – she assured me that no ward will go understaffed at any stage particularly over this period.

“In fact the Director made the point that more staff are likely to be on duty Christmas festive period. A trend analysis showing this to be one of the busiest period of the year.

“But as well as showing real leadership by creating a frail and elderly service – a bespoke system for dealing with the frail and elderly who present themselves at the Emergency Department (ED) – they have a clear message for those who may feel they need to use the ED. If you present yourself at ED you will be seen and you will be treated after your are triaged; but they want people to ask themselves some very simple questions.

- Is it an emergency, can I wait until after the busy festive season, can I wait to see my General Practitioner (GP), can I use the out of hours service, do I really need to go to ED?

Mr Beattie continued: “They are also making a very real plea that if you are suffering from diarrhoea and vomiting then ED is not the place for you to go – in doing so you may well spread this bug to others at the department and in particular to those who may be already unwell thus complicating their medical issue.

“In wishing all the clinical and non-clinical staff at Craigavon Area Hospital a Merry Christmas and thanking them for their dedication I also ask the people of Portadown and the wider Craigavon area to help those who help us by not adding to their work unnecessarily. Wait if you can – call if you cannot.”