Plans in Place to Protect Children’s and Maternity Services

03/04/2020

The Minister for Health, approved a regional plan to consolidate and secure paediatric services during surge across Northern Ireland. Click here for the press release from the Department which sets out the proposed changes and the rationale.

 

A key aim of the plan is to make services as resilient and sustainable as possible and to prevent unplanned collapses. Consideration has been given to maintain safe staffing in units as well as wider pressures created by COVID19 in the adult service.

In relation to Paediatric Services in the Western Trust, we have already experienced staff shortages associated with COVID19. The loss of one more consultant at either site would precipitate a service crisis.

The occupancy levels at all paediatric units are low at present, so that consolidation can be managed within the current bed complement.

To ensure the best possible service at SWAH, from Wednesday 08 April 2020, we will provide:

  • Enhanced ambulatory services where children can be assessed and treated. These will be staffed by senior doctors. This means many patients who normally would be admitted will be managed on an ambulatory basis – further reducing inpatient demand.
  • 24/7 consultant cover will be maintained for delivery of babies (approx. 3 per day)
  • One neonatal nurse will be available 24/7 to help care for any neonate needing additional input. Any infant requiring neonatal admission will be transferred to Altnagelvin where there is a full neonatal service.

Detail of proposal is that ambulatory service will operate 9am – 10pm, 7 days per week. This will be kept under review.

Based on detailed discussions with senior medical and nursing teams from SWAH and across the region, we are of the view that moving to this model offers the best and most resilient service to children and infants. It will be important for all of us to stress that this is a temporary measure in response to the COVID19 emergency.