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Changes to Respiratory Services in the Western Trust


Dr Martin Kelly, Respiratory Consultant and Dr Rose Sharkey, Respiratory Consultant

COVID19 is a respiratory virus that affects your lungs and airways. For many people, it causes mild symptoms while for others it can be much more serious and require hospital treatment.

As a result of the COVID19 pandemic, the Respiratory Service in the Western Trust has undergone a review of current services to meet both new and existing service needs. There are changes to outpatient services, inpatient services and follow up services as the Respiratory Service manages both this new virus and their long-term patient population.

Dr Rose Sharkey, Respiratory Consultant at the Western Trust explains some of the steps that have been taken: “We have postponed a number of appointments as we did not wish for patients with a respiratory condition to be coming to our hospitals. However, a large number of these patients will receive a telephone call and have a ‘virtual’ appointment with either a doctor or a Respiratory Nurse Specialist, and we will continue to carry out this new service over the weeks ahead.

“We have separated out Respiratory Inpatient Service. Patients who have suspected or confirmed COVID19 infection will be managed in a different area/ward to those respiratory patients who do not have this infection. Both areas/wards are staffed with experienced nurses and doctors to ensure the best level of care is delivered. In order to make this possible some retired nurses and doctors have returned to service and a number of nurses from the community have moved to take up roles in the hospital.”

Dr Sharkey continued: “To support inpatients with COVID19 infection getting home as soon as medically agreed, a discharge follow up team has been set up.  This team will phone some patients following discharge and arrange any appropriate investigations if necessary.

“Our Community Respiratory Team and Respiratory Nurse Specialists are still available to help address any queries or concerns that our patients may have. This advice is not given face to face but they will be able to listen to patients queries and concerns and signpost accordingly.

“We would also be mindful that there are patients, currently not known to us, who may be suffering from a non COVID19 related respiratory illness. We would recommend that these patients still continue to contact their GP and follow the guidance as advised.

“Our service has been transformed significantly over the past month and we are managing an extremely complex situation whilst mindful of our current and potentially new patients.  We hope that the steps we have taken will be welcomed by patients over this period and that you receive the level of care and support you require from the Western Trust.”