Lagan Valley A+E hours reduced

The first example of consolidation of hospital services has now occurred with the reduction in the opening hours of Lagan Valley’s A+E department. This has produced some comment from the local council but possibly a more measured reaction than might have been expected. The Belfast Telegraph has a typically hysterical headline (not on line) about a bleeding woman sent away from A+E – later discovered to be a lady with a cut finger who was sent to the Royal for an X ray and stitches.

There might be an issue about supporting a minor injuries unit in Lisburn but the reality is that it is not possible to provide state of the art health care in the very large number of hospitals which Northern Ireland has. Consolidation has been proposed for years with suggestions of 5-6 acute units and the other hospitals providing out patients, rehab etc. This model was recently suggested by the BMA and is in part driven by the need to ensure adequate specialisation to deliver the best outcomes for patients. To quote the NI GP Committee chairman Dr Brian Dunn (from the News Letter):

Dr Dunn said while he understands communities may feel “a loss of pride” with the closure of a hospital, the need to provide patients with “modern medicine” in a unit that is not “plagued by staffing difficulties” outweighs those concerns.
He suggested cutting the number of acute care hospitals from 15 to “four, five or six”, which would offer “good specialist treatment”.
Those remaining would not be closed, but rather used for follow-up care.
Dr Dunn added: “You would be treated in acute hospitals then you would go off and are rehabilitated in your local hospital, which would be more convenient for the patient and their families – and it saves money.”

In addition the numbers of junior doctors in training and the need to provide them with adequate modern training and supervision is a major driver of change.

One thing which is particularly noteworthy is that Edwin Poots has allowed the first reconfiguration to occur to a hospital in his own constituency. Previously, rightly or wrongly, both Bairbre de Brún and Michael McGimpsey were unwilling to make any changes which reduced provision in their own constituencies. Poots, on the other hand seems willing to make the necessary decisions even if they are politically unpopular. If he carries on like this he may be able to radically improve the NI NHS which has amongst the worst waiting lists in the UK and in addition save money. If he can manage this he will be seen as a most effective minister and may in the future be seen as the man who helped modernise our health service.

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  • Cynic2

    “later discovered to be a lady with a cut finger who was sent to the Royal for an X ray and stitches”

    Lisburn woman cuts finger – probably on bottle. Shock horror. Open new hospital at end of her street

  • tacapall

    Well done Poots then and its not as if the RVH is hundreds of miles away although patients will have to be notified to bring some food and water as the waiting time to be treated sometimes is as long as 24 hours.

    And welcome back Turgon.

  • dwatch

    “If he can manage this he will be seen as a most effective minister and may in the future be seen as the man who helped modernise our health service.”

    Turgon, on the other hand Poots may have shot himself in the foot with unionist voters next election. Remember how SF & the DUP kicked up hell when McGimpsey only held up the opening of a cancer unit in Derry/Londonderry when he was health minister. There are some joint 80,000 S & E Belfast & Lagan Valley citizens effected by the health minister’s actions.

    Protesters pledge ‘one hell of a fight’ to save Belfast City Hospital A&E

    How many cancer patients would have been effected by the temporary closure of the cancer unit in Martin McGuinness’s constituency? I bet there is not 80,000.

  • CharlieMcCarthy29


    By the next time an election comes around, the closure will be well established and the pissedoffedness will have subsided.

  • RyanAdams

    To be completely fair, all I have ever heard about Lagan Valley A & E is complaints, especially about waiting times at night. Personally I think this is for the best.

  • Cynic2

    Its the right decision. Whether or not Poots will hold to it is another thing

  • Cynic2

    “its not as if the RVH is hundreds of miles away”

    ….you misunderstand the debate. As with the City Hospital/ RVH/Mater issue in Belfast, Lagan Valley is Oursuns hospital in Oursuns area. The RVH and Mater are Themuns Hospital in Themuns areas. Physically the distances are short. Psychologically they are infinite.

    The implications of this are huge. Good God, we might have to sit next to one of the other sort while waiting to be treated. We might even moan to each other about the waiting times and thereby accidentally strike up a conversation with one of the other sort

    If the Health Service is going to press ahead with this I suggest its vital that they implement a number of measures in the remaining A&E Departments

    * at triage all patients to be stamped with a large P C or O (Other) on their Forehead
    * separate colour coded sets of chairs in the waiting area. Green for Catholics and Orange for Prods. Any colour but white for the Others whose chairs should be sued to form an interface area twentieth the two sides
    * separate paths between the waiting area and treatment cubicles to prevent allegations of illegal parading / coat trailing
    * Protestant Cubicles to have orange curtains and a picture of the Queen on the wall to settle patients down
    * Catholic Cubicles to have Green Curtains and on the wall a copy of the 1916 Proclamation and a handcrafted antique basket weave souvenir of Long Kesh c 1972
    * Where possible, staff treating any patient should be of the same sort to avoid any possible offence. Name badges showing their names (backed up by the usual tests of distance between eyes and accent) should be enough to identify their probable religion
    * For Reasons of economy Others may be treated as honorary Catholics or Protestants save that all Jewish Patients will be seen as Protestant and all Palestinians as Catholic (at least for the period of treatment)
    * treating patients in order of clinical priority will be abandoned. Instead a modified form of d’Hondt will be applied. Casualty computers will continuously monitor the % of each sort waiting at any time and select the next patient by a weighted formula according to how many of each sort are in the waiting area at any given time.
    * At times this may lead to unwanted and unforeseen circumstances. Separate colour coded morgue trolleys will be maintained for these reasons but these will be marked discretely to stop themuns gloating when one of oursuns is wheeled away
    * Different rules will apply in Derry

  • Kevin McIlhennon

    I have had the (dis)pleasure of having to go to Lagan Valley A&E twice, both times with minor injuries (ruptured eardrum and oedema) and both times at about 4am. Yet both times it took over 6 hours to be seen. The Royal A&E is just as bad. It took me 8 hours to be treated for a dislocated thumb (again in the early hours of the morning) because there weren’t “any orthopaedic specialists” available. I would think that any emergency doctor would be able to reduce a dislocation but I don’t get how they’re low on junior doctors yet there still aren’t any jobs for graduates. It’s a joke here.