Findings Report on SWAH Emergency General Surgery Consultation Published06/07/2023
The ‘Findings Report’ on the Western Trust’s consultation on the temporary suspension of Emergency General Surgery at South West Acute Hospital was tabled today (06 July 2023) at the monthly Trust Board meeting. The consultation was carried out in accordance with the Department of Health Circular on ‘Change or Withdrawal of Services’ and in line with the Trust’s consultation scheme.
The extensive and wide ranging consultation included seven face-to-face and two online events, alongside staff engagement and information sessions. The Trust is required under these arrangements to seek out ‘viable alternatives’ to the temporary pathways which were put in place, through consultation with the public and staff. The Trust is satisfied that the consultation process has fulfilled this requirement.
The Findings report reflects the breadth of views expressed during the Trust’s 12 week consultation. The report identifies key themes emerging from the responses to the consultation and aims to assist the Trust to listen to the concerns of the community they serve and enabled the Trust to answer a range of questions which arose relating to the decision.
Western Trust Chief Executive Neil Guckian said:
“This was a very difficult and challenging process and we fully acknowledge the concerns raised by the local communities. I want to thank everyone who has put their views forward and pay tribute to all of the staff who supported the extensive consultation process.”
“The decision to temporarily suspend Emergency General Surgery at the SWAH was taken to protect public safety. The Western Trust is fully committed to protecting the safety of our patients who require Emergency General Surgery and we will continue to focus on providing high quality care to them.
“Although there was very significant objections to the temporary change, the new pathways put in place have been working effectively. An average of two patients per day have been admitted to Altnagelvin for Emergency General Surgery since 19 December 2022, and we are pleased to report there is no evidence that the temporary change to the pathways at SWAH has negatively impacted on patient clinical outcomes.”
“We recognise how difficult it will be to reinstate Emergency General Surgery at SWAH due to both recruitment challenges and the requirements for access to other clinical services within the new regional standards for General Surgery, published by the Health Minister. South West Acute Hospital falls some way short of meeting the requirements of these standards.
“Delivering safe care to the population of the West was the primary reason for this temporary change. We are satisfied that the temporary suspension of Emergency General Surgery at SWAH and the new pathways put in place to assess patients in our ambulatory pathway at SWAH, and to treat patients requiring admission at Altnagelvin, has significantly mitigated the patient safety risks which arose from the challenges in the Consultant General Surgeon workforce.
“The alternative clinical pathways for the treatment of emergency general surgery patients at SWAH are carefully monitored by the Trust and this will continue at this time.”