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Public Representatives

From Monday 28 February 2022:

Point of Contact for MLAs, MPs, Councillors and Public Representatives:

Oliver Kelly, Head of Communications
Mobile: 07989 449 324 Direct Line: 028 8283 5253 Email: oliver.kelly@westerntrust.hscni.net

Individual Constituent Enquiries by email only (with consent form)
  • For individual Constituent Enquiries by email only contact please use the following method of communication, as currently stands:
    Email: Madonna McGinley, Chief Executives Office, at Madonna.mcginley@westerntrust.hscni.net
Out of Hours URGENT Contact only: outside of 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday
  • Out of Hours URGENT CONTACT only: Moving forward and to ensure your contact is dealt with efficiently at a time outside the normal working hours above please contact the following Out of Hours Number on 075 2589 7187. (Out of Hours: outside of 9am-5pm, Monday to Friday)
  • Please note that if urgent contact is required outside normal hours then the above number should be used and be aware that emails may not always be monitored outside of normal hours.
Next MLA & MP Briefing Sessions as follows:
  • Friday 24 June 2022:
    • 10:30am: Zoom/Possible meeting in person to be confirmed
  • Friday 9 September 2022:
    • 10:30am: Zoom/Possible meeting in person to be confirmed
  • Friday 14 October 2022
    • 10:30am: Zoom/Possible meeting in person to be confirmed
  • Friday 2 December 2022:
    • 10:30am: Zoom/Possible meeting in person to be confirmed

In the event of any special briefing sessions which may be required, this will be notified in advance to all MLA, MPs and Public Representatives.


  • 25/05/2022: Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex to become Northern Ireland’s second regional Day Procedure Centre

    The Western Trust has welcomed today’s announcement by Minister Swann that Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex will become Northern Ireland’s second regional Day Procedure Centre.

    The initiative represents a significant step forward in the transformation of health care to tackle waiting lists for urology, general surgery and endoscopy, which will benefit patients throughout the region.

    Commenting on the Minister Swann’s announcement, Geraldine McKay, Director of Acute Services said:

    “This is great news for the Western Trust and in particular Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex. We look forward to working with the Department of Health and our clinical and nursing staff to implement this.”

  • April 2022

    05/04/2022: Visiting Guidance update for Western Trust Hospitals

    The Western Trust will continue with visiting to hospital sites allowing for one visit, for one hour per day per patient. Exceptions will also continue to apply in some areas. All temporary visiting restrictions will be reviewed again on Monday 11 April 2022 and an update will follow then as the Trust plan to implement a phased return to full visiting arrangements across all health care facilities in the months ahead.

    COVID-19 transmission rates remain high in the community and the Western Trust continues to deal with challenges and pressures on our Hospitals. Staff absences due to Covid-19 and other sickness together with a sustained number of Covid-19 patients and Covid-19 outbreaks in our hospitals must continue to be managed.

    The Trust treats the safety of our patients, staff and everyone attending our facilities with the utmost importance and therefore strongly recommends that anyone attending any of our facilities to visit a loved one, to take a lateral flow test immediately prior to attending. This will help to reduce the risk for all patients. All infection and prevention control measures MUST be adhered to when visiting and this includes wearing a facemask properly which covers your nose and mouth at all times, in addition to proper hand washing and adhering to social distancing guidelines.

    Important information on visiting any Western Trust hospital:

    • One Visitor (from two nominees) is permitted to visit for one hour, once per day.
    • The Trust treats the safety of our patients, staff and everyone attending our facilities with the utmost importance and therefore strongly advise that anyone attending any of our facilities to visit a loved one, to take a lateral flow test prior to attending.
    • DO NOT ATTEND any Western Trust hospital or facility IF you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone who is confirmed COVID-19 positive.
    • All infection and prevention control measures MUST be adhered to when attending any Western Trust hospital or facility and this includes wearing a facemask properly which covers your nose and mouth at all times. In addition you must adhere to proper hand washing and social distancing guidelines at all times when visiting.
    • Based on high risk of COVID-19 transmission it is important to note that some wards are unable to allow visiting at this time and you will be informed of this when you ring to book your visit.
    • Depending on the continued high level of COVID-19 transmission in the community, all temporary measures are subject to review.
    • A further review of the Visiting Guidance will take place again on Monday 11 April 2022.

    There will also continue to be exceptional circumstances in respect of visiting guidance to the North West Cancer Centre, attending outpatient appointments, maternity scans, neonatal and visiting patients in end of life care. Further information.

    We would encourage you to keep in contact with your loved ones via Virtual Visiting arrangements. You can continue to arrange a ‘virtual visit’ with your relative or friend on a smartphone or tablet. Our hospitals have access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient as there continues to be significant staffing pressures at present and our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care at this very busy time.

    Please respect our Staff 

    For anyone attending any Western Trust hospital or facility, we ask that you continue to work with us and please respect our staff and the guidance they give you at all times. There have been incidents where our staff have received verbal abuse and harassment and we would ask everyone to please refrain from such behaviour and remind everyone that we operate a zero tolerance policy towards abuse across our Trust.

    We would like to thank you for your cooperation in relation to all essential recent changes to our visiting arrangements. Your support helps us to provide safer care for your relatives and friends who are currently in hospital.

    • Updated Visiting Guidance and specific information is provided on the Western Trust Website specific page here

    The Trust will meet to review the visiting arrangements again on Monday 11 April 2022.

  • March 2022

    27/03/2022: Sarah’s Story: Appeal to expectant mothers to get their COVID-19 vaccination as soon as possible

    Brenda McCabe, Midwifery Lead for South West Acute Hospital and Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex along with mum Sarah Marechaux are appealing for expectant mothers to get their COVID-19 vaccination to protect themselves and their babies as she celebrates her first Mother’s Day with her daughter Olivia on Sunday 27 March 2022

    Brenda and her colleagues have seen the serious consequences of getting COVID-19, particularly for pregnant women and their unborn baby and taking the opportunity of Mother’s Day to highlight the benefit of getting vaccinated.

    Brenda said: “We are very grateful to Sarah Marechaux from Fintona, Co Tyrone for allowing us to share her remarkable story. Sarah had received her first COVID-19 jab prior to giving birth to her daughter via emergency C-section on 23 October 2021 at the South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen.

    “Unfortunately Sarah was seriously ill during her pregnancy having contracted COVID-19 and after giving birth and was treated in the COVID Ward 8 and Intensive Care Unit (ICU) at South West Acute Hospital for 11 weeks. Her condition deteriorated on a number of occasions throughout this time and she was given the last rites twice. It is a miracle that Sarah has survived and this is testament to the dedication and care of the nursing and medical teams and of course to Sarah and her partner Josh that she was finally discharged home in January 2022.

    Brenda added: “It is safe to get your COVID-19 vaccination during any stage of your pregnancy and I would encourage expectant mothers to speak to their consultant, midwife, GP or any healthcare professional for more advice if they have any questions or concerns.”

    Pic 1 Sarah Josh And Olivia Pictured With Staff From SWAHSister Valerie Topping, COVID-19 Ward 8 at South West Acute Hospital said: “Sarah’s experience of COVID-19 is a remarkable and emotional journey and she will never be forgotten by the nursing staff on the COVID Ward who cared for her, or by the ICU nursing staff, who all took her into their hearts. As a consequence of COVID, Sarah’s condition deteriorated rapidly in hospital on three occasions following the birth of her baby, each time requiring a rapid emergency response by staff, followed by admission to Intensive Care, where she was critically ill on each of these occasions. This had a heart-wrenching effect on all staff caring for her, knowing Sarah was a new mother, separated from her new born daughter and not knowing what the outcome for her and her husband Josh would be.

    Valerie continued: “However, despite this very traumatic experience, Sarah and Josh, supported by Sarah’s mother, Lorraine, have shown exceptional resilience and determination. Sarah showed great courage throughout her remarkable recovery, fuelled by her desire to be reunited with her baby, Olivia and her older children. We did manage to arrange for Sarah to go home on Christmas morning and with the support of nursing staff she was able to enjoy Christmas with her beautiful family, which was incredibly important for Sarah’s overall health and well-being. Whilst she continues in her recovery, my staff gained immense satisfaction, delight and hope during this challenging time in supporting Sarah until she was finally able to be discharged home, in early January 2022.

    Alina Vintila Staff Nurse Sandra Beacom HCA And Colleen Tierney Staff Nurse Who Looked After Sarah When She Was A Patient In Ward 8 COVID“We are delighted to welcome Sarah, Josh and Olivia to a special celebration today to mark Sarah and her families incredible journey last year and to acknowledge the help and support Sarah’s mum Lorraine has provided to her daughter and granddaughter. We would like to wish Sarah well in her on-going recovery and she will always have a special place in all our hearts. Unfortunately Lorraine could not be with us today but we wish to extend a very Happy Mother’s Day to Sarah and Lorraine and we hope you both have a very special day on Sunday.”

    Sarah Marechaux said: “I like many other pregnant women was anxious about getting the vaccine and had many concerns. I know there is a lot of mix messages and scaremongering stories about the vaccine but I want to appeal to expectant mothers to please speak to their consultant or midwife who will be happy to answer any questions. I owe my life and that of my daughter, Olivia to Dr Andrew Craven, Speciality Doctor who was able to allay my fears and encouraged me to get jabbed.”

    Sarah added: “Myself and my partner are extremely grateful for the compassion and care provided to me by all the staff at the South West Acute Hospital and in particular Dr Craven, Sr Valerie Topping and ICU Staff. We have been through a rollercoaster of emotions and no words can express our gratitude to the wonderful staff in the hospital.

    “A massive thank you to my Doctors, ICU nurses, Ward 8 staff, Physios, OTs, porters and cleaners – they were all part of my journey in the South West Acute Hospital. There wasn’t a day where someone from any of those departments came to my room and wished me well or where praying for me. Josh and I appreciate everything you have all done for us.

    Pic 3 Sarah Josh And Olivia Pictured At The SWAHSarah continued: “When I was seriously ill I was unaware of what was going on around me, however, the staff created a memory book and each of them wrote messages of what was happening that day, who was with me, who held my hand, washed me, brushed my hair etc. The midwives also wrote about how my daughter was getting on – as they knew I was missing out on important milestones. I will treasure this book for ever and read this to Olivia when she is old enough to understand.”

    Brenda concluded: “Thank you again to Sarah for allowing us to share your amazing story of recovery from COVID-19. This has certainly given a much needed morale boost for our health care staff at this difficult time and we wish you, your partner and your beautiful daughter every happiness in the future. Take care.”

    To find the most up to date information on the Western Trust vaccination programme, visit the Western Trust Vaccination web page link: Western Trust Vaccination Webpage


    25/03/2022: Western Trust under Severe Pressure due to High COVID inpatients

    The Western Trust is facing unprecedented pressures due to the high level of COVID-19 infection in our local community and the subsequent increasing numbers of COVID-19 positive patients in our Hospitals.

    As of yesterday 24 March 2022 we had 52 COVID-19 patients in Altnagelvin and 51 COVID patients in South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen. This is the highest number of COVID patients we have treated for many months.

    Our hospitals are currently operating at 100% bed capacity and there remains high numbers of Emergency Department attendances, and many patients facing lengthy waits for admission to wards.

    Speaking about the current hospital pressures, Western Trust Chief Executive Neil Guckian said: “The number of COVID-19 inpatients is again increasing at both Altnagelvin Hospital and the South West Acute Hospital. This is putting extreme pressure on the hospital system, including our workforce and is causing us great concern.

    “This is not a simple matter of putting up more beds. Beds require staff to care for patients and pre-existing staffing pressures and staff absences due to COVID continue to be challenge.

    “It is very regrettable that we find ourselves in such a difficult position again and we are currently considering if we need to step down some services and redirect staff for a period of time, to ensure that we can manage the increasing pressures in a safe manner.”

    Neil continued: “As the Chief Medical Officer emphasised yesterday, the threat from COVID-19 has certainly not ended. Although our admissions to Intensive Care are low, we continue to have very significant numbers of very unwell COVID patients needing care in our hospitals.

    “We are therefore asking once again for the public to please support us by adopting COVID safe behaviours whilst visiting our facilities. The Trust treats the safety of our patients, staff and everyone attending our facilities with the utmost importance and therefore strongly recommends that anyone attending any of our facilities to visit a loved one, to take a lateral flow test immediately prior to attending. This will help to reduce the risk for all patients. All infection and prevention control measures MUST be adhered to when visiting and this includes wearing a facemask properly which covers your nose and mouth at all times, in addition to proper hand washing and adhering to social distancing guidelines. Your support helps us to provide safer care for your relatives and friends who are currently in hospital.

    “Patients and families should also be aware that due to the ongoing pressure for hospital beds patients may be discharged without their full package of care being in place, or discharged to another care facility until the place of their choice is available.”

    Neil concluded: “Every single member of our staff across our hospital and community settings are yet again rising to the extreme challenges we are facing and we again thank them for their tremendous efforts.

    “For anyone attending any of our hospitals or facilities, we ask that you continue to work with us and please respect our staff and the guidance they give you at all times. There have been incidents where our staff have received verbal abuse and harassment and we would ask everyone to please refrain from such behaviour and remind everyone that we operate a zero tolerance policy towards abuse across our Trust.”


    07/03/2022: Actor and Mencap NI Ambassador James Martin officially opens Sensory Room at Altnagelvin Hospital’s Emergency Department

    The Western Trust Chief Executive Neil Guckian warmly welcomed actor and Mencap NI Ambassador James Martin and guests to officially open the Adult Learning Disability Sensory Room at Altnagelvin Hospital’s Emergency Department today (Monday 07 March 2022).

    James Martin said:

    “Thank you for inviting me to open the sensory room at Altnagelvin Hospital. It will help many people with a learning disability and their families when they have to go to hospital in an emergency. It can be scary to go to hospital, so this will help keep people calm and happy so they can get better treatment. This new sensory room will be fantastic and really help people.”

    James continued:

    “It is important that people with a learning disability get help and support when they visit hospital and that staff understand how to help them. Simple changes make a big difference, more time, better communication and clearer information can all help to make sure someone with a learning disability is treated well in hospital.”

    Colleen Hamilton Clionagh McElhinney James Martin And Marie Mullan Pictured At The Official Opening ALD Sensory Room

    Neil Guckian, Chief Executive at the Western Trust expressed his delight to be part of the official opening of the first Sensory Room installed in a Northern Ireland Emergency Department.  Neil said:

    “I wish to warmly welcome you all to Altnagelvin Hospital’s ED today to celebrate the opening of this wonderful sensory room. This facility has been extremely well received by staff, clients and families since opening on 01 December 2021.”

    Neil continued:

    “Thank you to our Acute Liaison Nurse Clionagh McElhinney for her vision and commitment to improving the lives of patients with a Learning Disability and to our Emergency Department staff for their dedication and support as they continue to deliver safe and effective care for our population in the North West. This initiative was undertaken in response to feedback and discussion with carers and service users who have attended ED in the past and is a reflection of working in partnership with different professionals with the support of the Trust’s Adult Learning Disability Involvement Team. Given the successful feedback to date of our first sensory room, we are hopeful that we can replicate such areas in other parts of the Trust. Well done everyone on this outstanding achievement we are extremely proud of you all!”

    Clionagh McElhinney, Acute Liaison Nurse based at Altnagelvin Hospital explained:

    “To help improve the experience of people with a Learning Disability and their carers when attending the Emergency Department, we worked in partnership with our ED colleagues to create a new sensory room. This room provides a quiet, relaxing environment to minimise stress and anxiety so that their clinical procedures can be carried out and avoids unnecessary interaction with other patients in ED Waiting Area.

    “I would like to thank the local supplier of sensory equipment Creative Activity and in particular Kieran McMullan Sales Manager who helped to design the room and provided a very efficient and professional service. The room was fitted inside 4 hours with limited disruption to services within ED. Thank you Kieran and your team.”

    James Martin Actor And Mencap Ambassador Cutting The Ribbon To Officially Open ALD Sensory Room At Altnagelvin HospitalClionagh added:

    “The feedback that has been received since this room opened from both staff and patients has been phenomenal and is testament to the care and dedication of the staff in ED. Comments received:

    “The difference it made to the person’s care was unbelievable, he was so settled and calm once taken into the room. We were able to get his clinical observation once in the room.” (ED staff member)

    “Fantastic Facility” (carer)

    “Usually this would have been the most stressful things in our life but with the new sensory room it was brilliant, he loved it. This has to be the one of the best ideas Altnagelvin has ever done- well done everyone!! (parent)

    Colleen Hamilton, Assistant Services Manager for Unscheduled Care at Altnagelvin Hospital’s Emergency Department said

    “We are delighted to have this dedicated space in our Emergency Department to support patients with a learning disability and their carers. Once the room door is closed you would not imagine you are in the midst of an extremely busy and noisy environment – it really is a calm oasis and has been very well received by the staff here in the department. It allows us to carry out tests and procedures much more easily and in less time which is beneficial to the patient and staff. We are very proud that we are the first ED in Northern Ireland to have this sensory room and look forward to continuing to provide the best care to our patients in the future.”


    07/03/2022: Visiting Guidance update for Western Trust Hospitals

    The Western Trust will continue with visiting to hospital sites allowing for one visit, for one hour per day per patient. Exceptions will also continue to apply in some areas. All temporary visiting restrictions will be reviewed again on Monday 21 March 2022 and an update will follow then as the Trust plan to implement a phased return to full visiting arrangements across all health care facilities in the months ahead.

    COVID-19 transmission rates remain high in the community and the Western Trust continues to deal with challenges and pressures on our Hospitals. Staff absences due to Covid-19 and other sickness together with a sustained number of Covid-19 patients and Covid-19 outbreaks in our hospitals must continue to be managed.

    The Trust treats the safety of our patients, staff and everyone attending our facilities with the utmost importance and therefore strongly recommends that anyone attending any of our facilities to visit a loved one, to take a lateral flow test immediately prior to attending. This will help to reduce the risk for all patients. All infection and prevention control measures MUST be adhered to when visiting and this includes wearing a facemask properly which covers your nose and mouth at all times, in addition to proper hand washing and adhering to social distancing guidelines.

    Important information on visiting any Western Trust hospital (from Monday 7 March 2022):

    • One Visitor (from two nominees) is permitted to visit for one hour, once per day.
    • The Trust treats the safety of our patients, staff and everyone attending our facilities with the utmost importance and therefore strongly advise that anyone attending any of our facilities to visit a loved one, to take a lateral flow test prior to attending.
    • DO NOT ATTEND any Western Trust hospital or facility IF you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone who is confirmed COVID-19 positive.
    • All infection and prevention control measures MUST be adhered to when attending any Western Trust hospital or facility and this includes wearing a facemask properly which covers your nose and mouth at all times. In addition you must adhere to proper hand washing and social distancing guidelines at all times when visiting.
    • Based on high risk of COVID-19 transmission it is important to note that some wards are unable to allow visiting at this time and you will be informed of this when you ring to book your visit.
    • Depending on the continued high level of COVID-19 transmission in the community, all temporary measures are subject to review.
    • A further review of the Visiting Guidance will take place again on Monday 21 March 2022.

    There will also continue to be exceptional circumstances in respect of visiting guidance to the North West Cancer Centre, attending outpatient appointments, maternity scans, neonatal and visiting patients in end of life care. For further information, please refer to the Trust website – link here.

    We would encourage you to keep in contact with your loved ones via Virtual Visiting arrangements. You can continue to arrange a ‘virtual visit’ with your relative or friend on a smartphone or tablet. Our hospitals have access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient as there continues to be significant staffing pressures at present and our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care at this very busy time.

    Please respect our Staff 

    For anyone attending any Western Trust hospital or facility, we ask that you continue to work with us and please respect our staff and the guidance they give you at all times. There have been incidents where our staff have received verbal abuse and harassment and we would ask everyone to please refrain from such behaviour and remind everyone that we operate a zero tolerance policy towards abuse across our Trust.

    We would like to thank you for your cooperation in relation to all essential recent changes to our visiting arrangements. Your support helps us to provide safer care for your relatives and friends who are currently in hospital.

    • Updated Visiting Guidance and specific information is provided on the Western Trust Website specific page here

    The Trust will meet to review the visiting arrangements again on Monday 21 March 2022.

  • February 2022

    22/02/2022: Altnagelvin Hospital Emergency Department Message

    Our Emergency Department at Altnagelvin Hospital is under extreme pressures this evening, as is the entire Emergency Care network across Northern Ireland.  We will be asking patients and the public to work with us around facilitating early discharge from the hospital where possible and seeking other alternatives if they need to attend the Emergency Department.

    See below video link which will be posted on our social media channels this evening.


    22/02/2022: Visiting Guidance update for Western Trust Hospitals

    The Western Trust will continue with visiting to hospital sites allowing for one visit, for one hour per day per patient. Exceptions will also continue to apply in some areas. All temporary visiting restrictions will be reviewed again on Monday 7 March 2022 and an update will follow then as the Trust plan to implement a phased return to full visiting arrangements across all health care facilities in the months ahead.

    COVID-19 transmission rates remain very high in the community and the Western Trust continues to deal with challenges and pressures on our Hospitals. Staff absences due to Covid-19 and other sickness together with a sustained number of Covid-19 patients and Covid-19 outbreaks in our hospitals must continue to be managed.

    Medical Director, Dr Catherine McDonnell said:

    “It is really important to continue to be cautious in our health and social care settings. There is still over 400 patients in hospitals across the region suffering from COVID-19, a number of which have contracted the virus within the healthcare facility. We need to be diligent and vigilant in regards to continuing with Infection, Prevention and Control practices to keep staff safe, patients safe and to protect our services. We will also continue to wear masks and socially distance in our facilities. I look forward to more hopeful times. I ask for your patience and caution in the weeks and months ahead to ensure that we keep you safe, your colleagues safe and our patients safe.”

    The Trust treats the safety of our patients, staff and everyone attending our facilities with the utmost importance and therefore strongly recommends that anyone attending any of our facilities to visit a loved one, to take a lateral flow test immediately prior to attending. This will help to reduce the risk for all patients. All infection and prevention control measures MUST be adhered to when visiting and this includes wearing a facemask properly which covers your nose and mouth at all times, in addition to proper hand washing and adhering to social distancing guidelines.

    Important information on visiting any Western Trust hospital (from Monday 21 February 2022):

    • One Visitor (from 2 nominees) is permitted to visit for one hour, once per day.
    • The Trust treats the safety of our patients, staff and everyone attending our facilities with the utmost importance and therefore strongly advise that anyone attending any of our facilities to visit a loved one, to take a lateral flow test prior to attending.
    • DO NOT ATTEND any Western Trust hospital or facility IF you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone who is confirmed COVID-19 positive.
    • All infection and prevention control measures MUST be adhered to when attending any Western Trust hospital or facility and this includes wearing a facemask properly which covers your nose and mouth at all times. In addition you must adhere to proper hand washing and social distancing guidelines at all times when visiting.
    • Based on high risk of COVID-19 transmission it is important to note that some wards are unable to allow visiting at this time and you will be informed of this when you ring to book your visit.
    • Depending on the continued high level of COVID-19 transmission in the community, all temporary measures are subject to review.
    • A further review of the Visiting Guidance will take place again on Monday 7 March 2022.

    There will also continue to be exceptional circumstances in respect of visiting guidance to the North West Cancer Centre, attending outpatient appointments, maternity scans, neonatal and visiting patients in end of life care. For further information, please refer to the our Visiting Guidance Page.

    We would encourage you to keep in contact with your loved ones via Virtual Visiting arrangements. You can continue to arrange a ‘virtual visit’ with your relative or friend on a smartphone or tablet. Our hospitals have access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient as there continues to be significant staffing pressures at present and our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care at this very busy time.

    Please respect our Staff 

    For anyone attending any Western Trust hospital or facility, we ask that you continue to work with us and please respect our staff and the guidance they give you at all times. There have been incidents where our staff have received verbal abuse and harassment and we would ask everyone to please refrain from such behaviour and remind everyone that we operate a zero tolerance policy towards abuse across our Trust.

    We would like to thank you for your cooperation in relation to all essential recent changes to our visiting arrangements. Your support helps us to provide safer care for your relatives and friends who are currently in hospital.

    • Updated Visiting Guidance and specific information is provided on the Western Trust Website specific page here

    The Trust will meet to review the visiting arrangements again on Monday 7 March 2022


    15/02/2022: Temporary Visiting Restrictions remain in place in Western Trust hospitals

    Following Health Minister, Robin Swann’s announcement regarding COVID-19 Restrictions, the temporary visiting restrictions in Western Trust hospitals will continue and will be kept under constant review by the Trust Visiting Group.  Current guidelines permit 1 person to visit for 1 hour once a day in the previously agreed areas with two nominated visitors.

    Within the Western Trust Health and Social Care settings, social distancing and other COVID safe measures must continue.

    The public is being asked to continue to wear face coverings while attending HSC enclosed settings to help protect our staff and vulnerable patients.

    The Trust will meet to review the current visiting arrangements again on Monday 21 February 2022 and an updated will be provided following that review meeting.

    Visiting guidance specific to each area can be found here.

    Staff Urged to be ‘Diligent and Vigilant’ Following Easing of COVID-19 Restrictions

    Medical Director, Dr Catherine McDonnell gives staff an update following Health Minister, Robin Swann’s announcement yesterday (14.02.22), she said:

    “The health minister’s announcement yesterday on the easing of COVID-19 restrictions is a welcome development for us all. You will note that the lifting of restrictions applies to the various public settings.

    (For your convenience, please click HERE for the Minister’s full announcement and associate statements).

    “It is really important to continue to be cautious in our health and social care settings. There is over 400 patients in hospitals across the region suffering from COVID-19, a number of which have contracted the virus within the healthcare facility.

    “We need to be diligent and vigilant in regards to continuing with Infection, Prevention and Control practices to keep staff safe, patients safe and to protect our services. We should continue to wear masks, socially distance (particularly at break time) and to participate in the Asymptomatic Staff Testing programme”

    Catherine finishes by saying thank you to staff for all the work done over the past two years.

    She added:

    “I look forward to more hopeful times. I ask for your patience and caution as we move into the weeks and months ahead to ensure that we keep you safe, your colleagues safe and our patients safe.”

    Visiting restrictions continue and will be kept under constant review by the Trust Visiting Group.  Current guidelines permit 1 person to visit for 1 hour once a day in the previously agreed areas with two nominated visitors.  Staff should remind the general public and patients on admission that these restrictions remain in place.


    10/02/2022: Neonatology Ward South West Acute Hospital

    Western Trust committed to working through staffing challenges at SWAH Neonatal Unit

    Deirdre Mahon, Director of Women and Children’s Services at the Western Health and Social Care Trust said:

    “I want to acknowledge the public’s concern surrounding the current position of our neonatal unit in South West Acute Hospital. Many will have seen the negative narrative online and in press in recent days. Contrary to some incorrect information quoted, I would like to reassure expectant parents and the wider public that the Trust is committed to working through the staffing challenges faced in the Neonatal unit at South West Acute Hospital and indeed support Neonatal services and maternity services across the Trust as a whole.

    “It is important that the public and key stakeholders are aware of the background of the unit, its current position, the work we have completed to date and work that is currently ongoing.” Deirdre explains: “The unit is commissioned for six special care cots. Over recent years/months many senior experienced neonatal nurses have left due to retirement, to pursue a different career pathway or to accommodate a better family life balance. This has left a huge depletion of experienced neonatal nurses with a result that the unit is having great difficulty providing adequate nursing cover for many shifts.

    “Contrary to some of the recent headlines, this is not about cutting neonatal or maternity services. We are doing everything in our power to actively try to recruit and address gaps in our workforce to ensure a safe and sustainable neonatal service. However, we have to date been unsuccessful in attracting and employing trained/ experienced neonatal nurses to work in Enniskillen. We recognise that there is a regional and a national shortage of neonatal trained nurses and the situation in SWAH has been escalated to the Neonatal Network NI, PHA and HSCB.

    “The staffing crisis has been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and short-term sick leave and staff isolation within the Western Trust.”

    “Neonatal Units across the Region have all endured significant staffing shortages and because of the specialist knowledge and skills required to care for preterm and sick babies, there has been no opportunities to seek cross-cover across hospital sites. The Trust do accept nurses (Adult/Children) and Midwives (some midwives are working there temporarily at present but are not Qualified in Specialty) to work in our neonatal units but they require a further period of training and support. They must complete a recognised course (3 neonatal modules) through QUB to get the QIS qualification.

    “Whilst we recognise that the shortage of neonatal nurses in South West Acute Hospital has been an ongoing concern, the Unit have implemented contingency plans to ensure that all babies born in the hospital are safely cared for. This has included reducing cot capacity in order to provide emergency and stabilisation of sick and preterm babies to another regional unit for ongoing specialist care if required. It is also important to note that all of the babies transferred during this period would have met the criteria for transfer regardless of the aforementioned challenges. It is also important to note that all of the babies transferred during this period would have met the criteria for transfer regardless of the aforementioned challenges and that, to date, no babies have been moved to any unit outside of the region.

    “As well as the Trust continued and active recruitment, a Project Board is now been established to look at all the different aspects of neonatal service delivery at South West Acute Hospital, to ensure the safe care for all babies born in our hospital and within that, project teams will be implemented to look at key areas within the overall structure. The Health and Social Care Board and the Public Health Agency have members on this Project Board who are working closely with senior management and clinical leads who are responsible for overseeing how this work will move forward.

    “South West Acute Hospital senior clinical management team and Human Resources are also currently engaging with an external advertising agency and working with our communication team to plan how we can try to address this nursing shortage locally and as a wider recruitment exercise.

    “Initially, as part of this process, there will be a PR campaign launched, highlighting the Trust Neonatal service and the opportunities available there and featuring this as a ‘Great place to work and live’.

    “Finally, we acknowledge that the negative headlines and narrative which has been prominent online and in the media recently is unhelpful in attracting staff to take up important roles in South West Acute Hospital. Moving forward, as we strive to promote and highlight Fermanagh as a ‘Great Place to Work and Live’ it will be very important for all key stakeholders and our local communities to work with us in helping promote the campaign and sharing positive messages publicly on this to attract staff to come and work in SWAH.”


    10/02/2022: Update Briefing: Adult Mental health Services

    Adult Mental Health Services

    The Adult Mental Health Service provides a range of inpatient and community based services for adults.  The Adult Mental Health Service is structured along key functional lines and is a biopsychosocial model and therefore delivered by a range of multidisciplinary professionals i.e., Nurses, Social Workers, Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Occupational Therapists and Pharmacists. To ensure service user and carer involvement in the development and provision of services, we work closely with a service user consultant as well as carers groups.

    The functionalised teams are as follows: Primary Care Liaison (PCL) Crisis Response Home Treatment (CRHT), Recovery Service, Adult Psychological Therapy, Alcohol and Drug Service, Forensics, Personality Disorder and Eating Disorder.

    The Crisis Service

    The Crisis Service provides a 24 hour, 7 day a week response to those people experiencing a significant mental health crisis.  The service will offer a range of responses to manage short term crisis including, inpatient services, home treatment and acute day care.

    In the Northern Sector which covers Derry City, Limavady and Strabane Council areas, Crisis Response Home Treatment (CRHT) is provided through a 30 bed inpatient unit including 6 higher intensity inpatient beds. The team performs a number of functions i.e. 24/7 gate-keeping to inpatient beds, crisis assessments, community home treatment based interventions as alternatives to hospital admission and acute day care provision.

    In the Southern Sector, which covers Omagh and Fermanagh Council areas, CRHT is provided through 26 inpatient beds (with 5 higher intensity beds) in the Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital. It performs similar functions including 24/7 gate-keeping to inpatient beds, crisis assessments, step up and step down to Rathview Home Treatment House and community home treatment based interventions as alternative hospital admission.

    Primary Care Liaison 

    PCL – a single point of access to Tier 3 Mental Health services.  Due to the geography of the Western Trust there are three entry points; one in the Northern Sector, one Omagh and one in Enniskillen in the Southern Sector. These teams address all urgent mental health referrals and elective referrals within a 9 week standard as per the Mental Health Access Protocol.  Co-located with PCL teams in both sectors there will be a well-being hub which will manage all tier 2 referrals from GPs.  These hubs will liaise and link with the Community Sector and Voluntary Sector to ensure a ‘no wrong door approach’ for clients requiring Tier 2 mental health services.

    Recovery Service

    Mental Health Recovery Services in the Western Trust exist to support people with serious and enduring mental health problems in their personal journey towards recovery. Services are underpinned by the principles of a person centred, strengths based approach, recognising the unique skills, creativity and expertise both of the service user and the helper. The guiding principles of autonomy, fairness, protection, dignity and respect are integral to the therapeutic alliance.

    There are 6 locality based multi-disciplinary Recovery teams across the Trust.

    Recovery Services include 10 supported living facilities which provide accommodation and support for those with complex needs in line with the established criteria. There are also 5 centres providing day opportunities across the Trust.  The Recovery Service also encompasses provision for short breaks and carers support.  There are a number of contracts with Community and Voluntary Sector providers managed through the Recovery Services. The Recovery Service includes the Condition Management Programme, a DEL funded service to support unemployed service users to manage their health condition and gain employment.  The development of the Recovery College hub and spoke model and a range of service user initiatives are managed through the Recovery Service.

    A specialist aspect of the Recovery Service is the Forensic Mental Health Team which is a Trust Wide Service that works predominately with recovery clients with co-morbid forensic issues and mental health conditions.

    Adult Psychological Therapy Services

    There are two Adult Psychological Therapy Teams, one north and one south.  These teams primarily treat service users at Steps 4 & 5 (more complex cases). The Teams incorporate modalities such as CBT, Psychology and Psychotherapy. We aim to manage referrals to this team within a 13 week standard as per the Mental Health Access Protocol.

    Other Specialist Services

    There are a number of Trust wide specialist services such as Addictions, Eating Disorders, the Regional Trauma Network and Personality Disorders. Service users within the Specialist services can be managed within a single team depending on need or in partnership with any of the above services.

    With Addiction Services there are 2 managed multi-disciplinary community addiction teams and an Tier 4 Regional Inpatient Detoxification Unit. There is a substance misuse liaison provision to acute and mental health hospitals also.

    Eating Disorders is a managed multi-disciplinary team which has Trust wide responsibility.

    Personality Disorder Team is psychology led with a Trust wide remit currently providing support and partnership working with the above teams. They continue to developing services for therapeutic groups across Trust and supporting practitioners to sustain these groups.

    The Regional Trauma Network are a specialist multi-disciplinary team providing intervention for service users that have been assessed as having experienced significant Trauma, including Troubles related issues.

    Perinatal Mental Health Team

    Recruitment has commenced for this team, with the Team Lead and Consultant Psychiatrists posts currently live. The final configuration of the team, within the available budget, will be confirmed shortly.

    Transformation Projects

    Mental Health Liaison Service

    The Western Trust commenced the development of an Enhanced Mental Health Liaison service (MHLS) to its acute general hospitals in 2019 with a view to improving the care and treatment of people with mental health or addictions presentations in Emergency Departments and acute general hospital wards and to support discharge and appropriate follow-up. This will be mainstreamed with confirmation of recurrent funding and has progressed in recent months with recruitment of nursing staff and a trustwide Clinical co-ordinator.

    Towards Zero Suicide

    The Towards Zero Suicide (TZS) collaborative aims to research and adopt best practice in suicide prevention. We are fully engaged in the relevant regional workstreams and initiatives, with the wider implementation of our co-produced safety-planning tool a regional priority. This Service Improvement post is also confirmed for mainstreaming in Adult Mental Health Services.

    Stepped Care Model – How services are organised

    Stepped Care Model

    From Regional Mental Health Care Pathway, 2014

    Five Ways to Wellbeing – What we can all do

    Five Ways To Wellbeing


    10/02/2022: COVID19 Vaccine Programme Update

    • Our Mass Vaccination Centres at Foyle Arena, Omagh Leisure Centre and Lakeland Forum are now closed. We once again express our thanks to the councils for their ongoing support for our vaccination programme.
      • Our vaccination teams will now work out of three smaller ‘hubs’ for the next stage of the programme: Anderson House (Altnagelvin), Key Worker Accommodation (SWAH) and Old School Canteen (T&F) will be our bases through February starting from this Wednesday 2/2/22.
      • Clinics will run on a variety of days, including evenings and weekends. We advise checking our website for weekly updates as the timetable may be subject to change depending on public demand.
    • Children aged 5 to 11 years in a clinical risk group, or children who are a household contact of someone who is immunosuppressed, are now being offered a first dose COVID-19 vaccine, with an interval of eight weeks between the first and second doses.
      • GPs will be writing out to these children to advise them to book on to a Trust site to receive their vaccinations.
      • If you have received a letter, then please log on to the booking system and make an appointment to attend one of the Western Trust’s clinics for 5-11 year-olds at our three ‘hub’ locations.
      • Vaccination teams will also be visiting special schools from Monday 31/1/22 to help support this element of the programme.
    • Many of those who received their first dose COVID vaccination through their school are now due their second dose. The school vaccination programme is now complete, so these young adults should attend a public vaccination clinic at one of our hub locations, both booked slots and a limited capacity for walk-ins are available.
      • It is vitally important that they receive this second dose in order to maintain optimum levels of immunity.
      • All those eligible for a second dose should have received a text message advising them to make arrangements for their second dose, a minimum of 12 weeks after their first dose, or 12 weeks after being COVID positive if they have subsequently tested positive or have shown COVID symptoms.
    • The Western Trust will re-introduce their COVID Vaccination Telephone Booking & Support Line from this week. Opening hours will be 9am to 5pm Monday to Thursday and 9am to 4:30pm on Fridays. The number to ring is 028 7161 0753

    Mobile Clinics:

    Date Area Venue / Address
    Tues 22nd Feb Strand House of Value, Longs Supermarket, Strand Road.
    Thurs 24th Feb Strathroy Strathroy Community Centre
    Tues 1st Mar Shantallow Community Centre
    Wed 2nd Mar Greysteel Vale Centre, Greysteel
    Thurs 3rd Mar Castlecoole St. Michaels Scouts Hall, Erne Rd, Enniskillen
    Tues 8th Mar Creggan Central Old Library Trust, Creggan
    Thurs 10th Mar Killyclogher Cappagh Parish Hall, Killyclogher
    • Bookings are now open for both general public and the 5-11 at clinical risk to book slots for vaccination at all three of our hubs here
    • For the latest on the Western Trust’s vaccination programme, including opening hours and schedule of opening for each of the hub location and mobile clinics, click here
    • Full details on vaccine eligibility, including dose intervals and guidance for different age brackets, click here

    10/02/2022: COVID-19 Update

    At February 2 2022

    COVID stats at 2.2.22

    Workforce Absence

    Workdorce Absence 2.2.22


    09/02/2022; Once per day Visiting continues for Western Trust Hospitals

    With continued high transmission rates of COVID-19 in the community, the Western Trust will continue with the temporary visiting restrictions across our hospital sites allowing for one visit, for one hour per day per patient. There will be exceptions which will apply in some areas.

    The Trust treats the safety of our patients, staff and everyone attending our facilities with the utmost importance and therefore strongly recommends that anyone attending any of our facilities to visit a loved one, to take a lateral flow test immediately prior to attending. This will help to reduce the risk for all patients. All infection and prevention control measures MUST be adhered to when visiting and this includes wearing a facemask properly which covers your nose and mouth at all times, in addition to proper hand washing and adhering to social distancing guidelines.

    Important information on visiting any Western Trust hospital:

    • One Visitor (from 2 nominees) is permitted to visit for one hour, once per day.
    • The Trust treats the safety of our patients, staff and everyone attending our facilities with the utmost importance and therefore strongly advise that anyone attending any of our facilities to visit a loved one, to take a lateral flow test prior to attending.
    • DO NOT ATTEND any Western Trust hospital or facility IF you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone who is confirmed COVID-19 positive.
    • All infection and prevention control measures MUST be adhered to when attending any Western Trust hospital or facility and this includes wearing a facemask properly which covers your nose and mouth at all times. In addition you must adhere to proper hand washing and social distancing guidelines at all times when visiting.
    • Based on high risk of COVID-19 transmission it is important to note that some wards are unable to allow visiting at this time and you will be informed of this when you ring to book your visit.
    • Depending on the continued high level of COVID-19 transmission in the community, all temporary measures are subject to review.
    • A further review of the Visiting Guidance will take place again on Monday 21 February 2022.

    There will also continue to be exceptional circumstances in respect of visiting guidance to the North West Cancer Centre, attending outpatient appointments, maternity scans, neonatal and visiting patients in end of life care. For further information, click here.

    We would encourage you to keep in contact with your loved ones via Virtual Visiting arrangements. You can continue to arrange a ‘virtual visit’ with your relative or friend on a smartphone or tablet. Our hospitals have access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient as there continues to be significant staffing pressures at present and our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care at this very busy time.

    For anyone attending any Western Trust hospital or facility, we ask that you continue to work with us and please respect our staff and the guidance they give you at all times. There have been incidents where our staff have received verbal abuse and harassment and we would ask everyone to please refrain from such behaviour and remind everyone that we operate a zero tolerance policy towards abuse across our Trust.

    We would like to thank you for your cooperation in relation to all essential recent changes to our visiting arrangements. Your support helps us to provide safer care for your relatives and friends who are currently in hospital.

    • Updated Visiting Guidance and specific information is provided on the Western Trust Website specific page here.

    The Trust will meet to review the visiting arrangements again on Monday 21 February 2022.

  • January 2022

    24/01/2022: Once per day Visiting re-introduced for Western Trust Hospitals and Facilities

    While there remains continued high transmission rates of COVID-19 in the community, the Western Trust are further easing restrictions on visiting to hospitals and facilities from after midnight on Monday 24 January.

    From 00:01am on Tuesday 25 January 2022, the temporary visiting restrictions across our hospital sites and facilities will be eased further to allow for one visit, for one hour per day per patient. There will be some exceptions which will apply in some areas.

    The Trust treats the safety of our patients, staff and everyone attending our facilities with the utmost importance and therefore strongly recommends that anyone attending any of our facilities to visit a loved one, to take a lateral flow test immediately prior to attending. This will help to reduce the risk for all patients. All infection and prevention control measures MUST be adhered to when visiting and this includes wearing a facemask properly which covers your nose and mouth at all times, in addition to proper hand washing and adhering to social distancing guidelines.

    Important information on Visiting any Western Trust hospital or facility from 00:01am on Tuesday 25 January 2022:

    • One Visitor (from 2 nominees) is permitted to visit for one hour, once per day.
    • The new visiting guidance will be applicable from 00:01am on Tuesday 25 January 2022.
    • The Trust treats the safety of our patients, staff and everyone attending our facilities with the utmost importance and therefore strongly advise that anyone attending any of our facilities to visit a loved one, to take a lateral flow test immediately prior to attending.
    • DO NOT ATTEND any Western Trust hospital or facility IF you have any symptoms of COVID-19 or are a close contact of someone who is confirmed COVID-19 positive.
    • All infection and prevention control measures MUST be adhered to when attending any Western Trust hospital or facility and this includes wearing a facemask properly which covers your nose and mouth at all times. In addition you must adhere to proper hand washing and social distancing guidelines at all times when visiting.
    • Based on high risk of COVID-19 transmission it is important to note that some wards are unable to allow visiting at this time and you will be informed of this when you ring to book your visit.
    • Depending on the continued high level of COVID-19 transmission in the community, all temporary measures are subject to review.
    • A further review of the Visiting Guidance will take place again on Monday 7 February 2022.

    There will also continue to be exceptional circumstances in respect of visiting guidance to the North West Cancer Centre, attending outpatient appointments, maternity scans, neonatal and visiting patients in end of life care. For further information, please refer to the Trust website.

    We would encourage you to keep in contact with your loved ones via Virtual Visiting arrangements. You can continue to arrange a ‘virtual visit’ with your relative or friend on a smartphone or tablet. Our hospitals have access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient as there continues to be significant staffing pressures at present and our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care at this very busy time.

    For anyone attending any Western Trust hospital or facility, we ask that you continue to work with us and please respect our staff and the guidance they give you at all times. There have been incidents where our staff have received verbal abuse and harassment and we would ask everyone to please refrain from such behaviour and remind everyone that we operate a zero tolerance policy towards abuse across our Trust.

    We would like to thank you for your cooperation in relation to all essential recent changes to our visiting arrangements. Your support helps us to provide safer care for your relatives and friends who are currently in hospital.

    • Updated Visiting Guidance and specific information is provided on the Western Trust Website specific page here

    The Trust will meet to review the visiting arrangements again on Monday 7 February 2022.


    20/01/2022: Northern Ireland Hospital Based Termination of Pregnancy Statistics, 2020/21

    Department of Health

    The Department of Health (DoH) today published statistics relating to medical abortions and terminations of pregnancy in Northern Ireland HSC Hospitals during 2020/21.

    The statistical bulletin presents information on the number of medical abortions and terminations of pregnancy carried out in HSC Hospitals in Northern Ireland during 2020/21.

    The information release is published here


    19/01/2022: RQIA to publish Report on Lakeview Hospital 

    RQIA inspected Lakeview Hospital on 16 – 18 August 2021 and highlighted areas for improvement. As part of the normal RQIA inspection processes, families of patients in Lakeview Hospital at that time were involved.

    The Trust took immediate action and developed an Improvement Plan with identified timeframes for the required improvements. As part of normal Trust processes, a number of staff information sessions have taken place. Within these sessions, staff were informed of the highlighted areas for improvement and the improvement plan was developed in conjunction with staff. The Plan was shared and agreed with RQIA.

    The Trust is committed to providing the highest quality services for all the patients and service users in its care. The Trust takes very seriously the areas identified as requiring improvement in Lakeview Hospital and has demonstrated its willingness to take whatever actions are necessary to ensure the service is compliant with the relevant standards and practices.

    As part of this process, all families involved have now been contacted and meetings have taken place with all but one family (who advised they were content and did not require a meeting) to fully update on the current position and the ongoing planning process as stated above. All families have also since been communicated with and provided with a copy of the RQIA Report.

    Work identified in the Improvement Plan remains ongoing and is managed through a Project Team and Project Board as well as being overseen by the Trust Corporate Management Team.

    RQIA will publish their report on Wednesday 19 January 2022.


    18/01/2022: DOH Release – Orthopaedic Surgery Initiative Launches at South West Acute Hospital

    Orthopaedic surgery initiative launches at South West Acute Hospital

    Twenty one patients received hip replacements last week through a new orthopaedic surgery initiative for Northern Ireland.

    It is only one of a range of initiatives taking place to utilise additional in-house and independent sector capacity to tackle hospital waiting times. The Western Health and Social Care Trust in partnership with Musgrave House has planned a programme of hip replacements using surplus theatre capacity in the South West Acute Hospital between now and March 31.

    Health Minister Robin Swann said:

    “Last year when I published a new Elective Care Framework to tackle the waiting lists, I gave a clear commitment that I wanted to see all HSC capacity utilised whenever and wherever possible.

    “That included a specific focus on making better use of theatre capacity that was not in active operation and where HSC activity isn’t being delivered, for example, at evenings and weekends or where services have not been commissioned. I would much rather see our hospital theatres leased to independent providers to treat HSC patients than see them lying empty and patients forced to dwell on a waiting list for even longer.

    “The South West Acute Hospital is a brilliant facility and a major asset for the region within the HSC estate. It would be a major disservice to the unacceptable numbers of people on a hospital list, but especially those experiencing daily pain and discomfort whilst waiting on a hip replacement, if we were not to seek to utilise the empty theatre and ward space there.

    “I was delighted therefore that in only its first week the partnership saw 21 new hips delivered, with more full theatre lists planned for the days and weeks ahead. Whilst this is only one of many initiatives, these are genuinely life-changing procedures for the patients that benefit from them.

    “These are operations for health service patients funded by the health service. Every procedure matters and it’s a small step in the right direction every single time we get a person off a waiting list.

    “Tackling our waiting lists is a major priority for me, and in sourcing additional capacity whilst still demonstrating value for public money in association with a major focus on increasing HSC capacity, will realistically be a part of that.”

    The Chief Executive of the Western Trust, Mr Neil Guckian stated:

    “The Western Trust’s South West Acute Hospital has state-of-the-art theatre facilities and is well equipped to support such important regional initiatives.  We are delighted to be supporting the work through uncommissioned ward and theatre facilities at the hospital which will see a significant number of procedures completed.  This is a fantastic partnership which helps to tackle lengthy waiting lists and we are looking forward to working closely with the Health and Social Care Board and the various providers over the coming weeks.”

    If successful, this initiative will be carried into the next year to help alleviate long waiting times.


    17/01/2022: Temporary Visiting Restrictions for Western Trust Hospitals and Facilities eased to once per week

    There remains a continued high level of COVID-19 transmission in the community and, while pressures including staff absences also continue to be a challenge, the Western Trust understand the significant importance that visiting patients in our hospitals provides.

    Therefore, from 6pm on Monday 17 January, there will be an initial easing of temporary visiting restrictions, across our hospital sites and facilities, which will now allow for one visit per week per patient. In order to ensure the continued safety of our patients, staff and families attending there is further important information to be considered by anyone visiting our hospitals or facilities – see details below.

    Temporary Visiting Restrictions from Monday 17 January 2022  

    • One Visitor (from 2 nominees) is permitted to visit for one hour, once per week.
    • The visiting week referred to will run from Monday 17 January (after 6pm) to Sunday 23 January 2022.
    • The Trust treats the safety of our patients, staff and everyone attending our facilities with the utmost importance and therefore strongly encourage and strongly advise that anyone attending any of our facilities for visiting a loved one, to take a lateral flow test prior to attending.
    • All infection and prevention control measures MUST be adhered to when attending any Western Trust hospital or facility and this includes wearing a facemask at all times.
    • Based on Covid-19 risk assessments, it is important to note that some areas in our hospitals or facilities may be temporarily subject to not allowing any visits to occur, eg. where there is presently a Covid-19 outbreak. Therefore, prior to attending the hospital or facility it is recommended that you check with the Ward Manager for where you hope to visit.
    • Depending on the continued high level of COVID-19 transmission in the community, all temporary measures are subject to review.
    • A review of the temporary Visiting Guidance Restrictions will take place again on Monday 24 January 2022.

    In addition, there will also continue to be exceptional circumstances where visiting on a more regular basis is permitted. For further information, please refer to the Trust website – click here.

    Furthermore, these temporary visiting restrictions do not apply to birthing partners attending appointments to maternity services and full details of maternity arrangements are on the Trust Website – click here.

    We would encourage you to keep in contact with your loved ones via Virtual Visiting arrangements. You can continue to arrange a ‘virtual visit’ with your relative or friend on a smartphone or tablet. Our hospitals have access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient as there continues to be significant staffing pressures at present and our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care at this very busy time.

    The Trust acknowledges that this is a very difficult time for everyone but we continue to act in your best interest and the best interest of your relative/friend in hospital.  We ask that you continue to work with us and please respect our staff and the guidance they give you at all times. There have been incidents where our staff have received verbal abuse and harassment and we would ask everyone to please refrain from such behaviour and remind everyone that we operate a zero tolerance policy towards abuse across our Trust.

    We would like to thank the public for their cooperation in relation to these essential recent changes to our visiting arrangements. Your support helps us to provide safer care for your relatives and friends who are currently in hospital.

    • Updated Visiting Guidance and specific information is provided on the Western Trust Website specific page here

    REVIEW in one week: The Trust will meet to review the visiting arrangements again on Monday 24 January 2022 and a further update will be provided following that review.


    11/01/2022: Visiting Restrictions to continue temporarily for Western Trust Hospitals and Facilities

    Due to the unprecedented high level of COVID-19 transmission in the community and the continued pressures on our hospitals, with significant staff absences due to COVID-19, the temporary visiting restrictions implemented across our hospital sites and facilities in December will continue until further notice.

    There will continue to be exceptional circumstances where visiting will be permitted and you can click here to find out more in respect of this.

    It again should be noted that the new visiting restrictions does not apply to birthing partners attending appointments to maternity services and full details of maternity arrangements can again be found here on the Trust Website.

    We would encourage you to keep in contact with your loved ones via Virtual Visiting arrangements. You can continue to arrange a ‘virtual visit’ with your relative or friend on a smartphone or tablet. Our hospitals have access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient as there continues to be significant staffing pressures at present and our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care at this very busy time.

    The Trust acknowledges that this is a very difficult time for everyone. However we continue to act in your best interest and the best interest of your relative/friend in hospital.  We ask that you continue to work with us and please respect our staff and the guidance they give you at all times.

    We would like to thank the public for their cooperation in relation to these essential recent changes to our visiting arrangements. Your support helps us to provide safer care for your relatives and friends who are currently in hospital.

    • Updated Visiting Guidance and specific information is provided on the Western Trust Website specific page here

    The Trust will meet to review the visiting arrangements again on Monday 17 January 2022 and a further update will be provided following that review.


    10/01/2022: Update on Vaccination Programme

    It should be noted that the numbers attending the Trust’s Mass Vaccination Centres has reduced considerably and there has been a similar pattern across the region. Your support in helping to share/promote the Trust’s messaging would be greatly appreciated in helping to get the hugely important message out to the public.

    The full schedule for the Mass Vaccination Centres is publicised until 17 January 2021.

     

    Please note – Foyle Arena is closed this Saturday 8 January 2022 and the Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen, will be closed from after 5pm on Saturday 8 January as the Fermanagh & Omagh Council area site moves back to Omagh Leisure Centre (opening from Monday 10 January from 12pm)

    Mass Vaccination Centres

      Foyle Arena Omagh Leisure Complex Lakeland Forum
    Tues 4/1/22 12.00pm – 8.00pm CLOSED CLOSED
    Wed 5/1/22 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED 9.00am – 5.00pm
    Thurs 6/1/22 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED 9.00am – 5.00pm
    Fri 7/1/22 9.00am – 8.00pm CLOSED 9.00am – 8.00pm
    Sat 8/1/22 CLOSED CLOSED 9.00am – 5.00pm
    Sun 9/1/22 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED CLOSED
    Mon 10/1/22 9.00am – 5.00pm 12.00pm – 8.00pm CLOSED
    Tues 11/1/22 CLOSED 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED
    Wed 12/1/22 12.00pm – 8.00pm 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED
    Thurs 13/1/22 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED CLOSED
    Fri 14/1/22 9.00am – 5.00pm 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED
    Sat 15/1/22 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED CLOSED
    Sun 16/1/22 CLOSED 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED

     

    Other key points:

    • The level of staffing at our Mass Vaccination Centres has had to be scaled back where possible to help address staff shortages in other essential services. It is important to note this has not had any negative impact on ability to facilitate members of the public seeking vaccination.
    • Over the next few weeks the Western Trust will also be running a model where both the Mass Vaccination Centres AND Mobile Vaccine Clinics will be in operation (See mobile clinic timetable below). The initial planning is for Mobile Clinics to be placed in areas which worked well previously and are part of low uptake areas and these will also continue to be reviewed.
    • There does remain a concern in particular with the level of Covid Booster uptake amongst those aged 50+
    • In the week ahead, we will be highlighting targeted communications to Age 12-15 year olds encouraging them to book their next vaccine dose as it is anticipated that the return to school will lead to high levels of transmission amongst this group.
    • The next cohort to be vaccinated will be the aged 5-11 year olds who are considered “at risk” – further plans on this to be released in the coming weeks. This will be facilitated by Trusts with letters being issued from GPs to eligible children.

     

    Below is the next schedule of Mobile Vaccine Clinics planned. Due to limited availability for the Mobile Vaccine Clinics we would continue to encourage anyone, where possible, to book and attend the Mass Vaccination Centres listed above to receive your relevant Vaccine – 1st, 2nd or Booster.

     

    Upcoming Mobile Vaccine Clinics
    Date Times Venue Dosage
    Wednesday 5th 4pm to 8pm Limavady Leisure Centre 1st, 2nd, Booster
    Tuesday 11th 4pm to 8pm Shantallow Community Centre 1st, 2nd, Booster
    Thursday 13th 4pm to 8pm Castlederg Healthy Living Centre 1st, 2nd, Booster
    Tuesday 18th 4pm to 8pm Alley Theatre, Strabane 1st, 2nd, Booster
    Wednesday 19th 4pm to 8pm Derrygonnelly Community Centre 1st, 2nd, Booster
    Thursday 20th 4pm to 8pm Long Tower Youth Club 1st, 2nd, Booster
    Tuesday 25th 4pm to 8pm Patrician Hall, Carrickmore TBC 1st, 2nd, Booster
    Thursday 27th 4pm to 8pm Dromore 1st, 2nd, Booster
    Tuesday 1st Feb 4pm to 8pm Diamond centre, Claudy 1st, 2nd, Booster

     


    07/01/2022: Chief Executives Report to Trust Board

    Click Here for latest Report to Trust Board (6 January 2021) from Chief Executive, Neil Guckian.


    06/01/2022: Update on Neonatal Services in South West Acute Hospital

    Following the Trust’s briefing to MLAs and MPs (information provided to Public Representatives on Friday 3 December 2021) please note the following updated information in respect of the continued pressures on Neonatal Services at SWAH.

    • The Neonatal Unit at South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) is commissioned for 6 special care cots. Due to our current staffing crisis, we can only provide emergency care to babies born in SWAH and provide stabilisation and transfer to another Neonatal unit for ongoing specialist care if required. Subsequently we are maintaining 2 cots to permit this.
    • The Neonatal Unit currently provides emergency care to babies, stabilisation for those that need transfer to another unit for ongoing care and babies who require a short period of special care are cared for at SWAH between the neonatal unit and maternity.
    • Any baby that requires ongoing neonatal care will be assessed and those that require short term care can remain on the unit. However those that require a higher level of care will be transferred to another unit. A total of 6 babies were transferred to other neonatal units during the period 1/10/21 – 31/12/21. It should be pointed out that all of these babies required a higher level of care and would always have been transferred accordingly, regardless of the current situation.
    • As advised previously the staffing situation  within Neonatal at South West Acute Hospital has been and remains a concern. Whilst the management team (with senior HR input) continue to actively try to recruit, we have to date been unsuccessful in attracting and employing trained/ experienced neonatal nurses to work in Enniskillen. We recognise that this is a regional and a national issue and this has been escalated to the Neonatal Network NI, PHA and HSCB.
    • The staffing crisis has been further exacerbated by the Covid-19 pandemic and short term sick leave, with the Western Trust currently enduring significant staffing pressures across all services.
    • We recognise that parents/families may have to travel long distances if a women or baby is admitted to another unit in N. Ireland. Staff in neonatal and maternity will communicate to families who are affected and keep them informed.
  • December 2021

    24/12/2021: Update on RQIA Inspection at Lakeview Hospital

    RQIA inspected Lakeview Hospital on 16 – 18 August 2021 and highlighted areas for improvement. As part of the normal RQIA inspection processes, families of patients in Lakeview Hospital at that time were involved.

    The Trust took immediate action and developed an Improvement Plan with identified timeframes for the required improvements. As part of normal Trust processes, a number of staff information sessions have taken place. Within these sessions, staff were informed of the highlighted areas for improvement and the improvement plan was developed in conjunction with staff. The Plan was shared and agreed with RQIA.

    Work identified in the Improvement Plan remains ongoing and is managed through a Project Team and Project Board as well as being overseen by the Trust Corporate Management Team.

    The Trust is committed to providing the highest quality services for all the patients and service users in its care. The Trust takes very seriously the areas identified as requiring improvement in Lakeview Hospital and has demonstrated its willingness to take whatever actions are necessary to ensure the service is compliant with the relevant standards and practices.

    As part of this process, all families involved have now been contacted and meetings have taken place with all but one family (who advised they were content and did not require a meeting) to fully update on the current position and the ongoing planning process as stated above.

    RQIA are expected to publish their report in mid-January 2022 at which time we can also then provide a further update.


    23/12/2021: Joint Medical Directors Statement

    Omicron-related staff absence could seriously impact Northern Ireland’s health and social care system over the coming weeks.

    That’s the stark message from health service medical leaders amidst increasing concerns about the impact of the Omicron variant. Those concerns relate to the impact on an already over-stretched workforce of absences due to infection and self-isolation.

    Speaking on behalf of Medical Directors across the region, Dr Seamus O’Reilly said:

    “We know how infectious this particular variant is and we know that case numbers are already high. Alongside the public health threat, we are also extremely concerned about the number of health and social care staff who might not be available to work due to COVID-19 infection or self-isolation at the very time when we will need them most. This could be the factor that causes most pressure on all services over the coming weeks, not just in hospitals but also much-needed community services and support and administrative services.

    “There is also the possibility that we will see increasing numbers of patients being admitted to hospitals as a result of Omicron. This would be on top of the significant pressures we have already seen on our health and social care system.

    “It is vitally important that people only come to hospitals if their condition dictates that they need to be there. Emergency Departments are there to deal with genuine life-threatening emergencies for example chest pain, breathing difficulties, loss of consciousness, stroke or sudden confusion.

    “In any situation where resources are likely to be as depleted as we anticipate, it is vital that we are able to prioritise those who are most in need of our attention and that they receive timely and appropriate treatment and care. So please use alternatives where possible.”

    Dr O’Reilly stressed that the HSC system in Northern Ireland was very much working as one and that was the right thing to be doing.

    “It is a situation where we must work together not only to make best use of all the resources that are available to us but also to utilise capacity wherever that happens to be. In practice, that will mean for those who come to hospital by ambulance, they may not necessarily be taken to their local hospital. Ambulance response times will also be longer and people may have to consider making their own way to hospital if they are able to do so.”

    Stressing that pressures in staffing would not be confined to acute hospitals, Dr O’Reilly said that health and social care staff working in the community would also likely be affected.

    “The problems in securing adequate domiciliary care provision both in the independent sector and Trusts have been well rehearsed over the past few months. Those problems won’t go away overnight and staff testing positive and having to self-isolate will continue to complicate the picture.

    “I would also stress to patients and their relatives that hospitals are not the safest places to stay once the period of required acute care is at an end. I do appreciate that many patient discharges are not straightforward but remaining in a hospital runs the very real risk of new complications occurring such as infections which, at the very least, will only make the situation worse.

    “I’m asking patients and families to play their part and cooperate with us in accepting temporary placements in care homes when these are offered. In some cases, families may be able to provide temporary support at home.

    “Overall, we hope the public will understand that the health and social care system is unlikely to be able to maintain some services due to inevitable staff shortages in the coming weeks. In that event we would appeal for their help and patience as staff do their best in what could be very difficult circumstances.”

     


    15/12/2021: UPDATE on the Vaccination Programme at Western Trust Mass Vaccination Centres

    Further to our previous communication in respect of the enhanced Vaccination Programme at our three Mass Vaccination Centres in Lakeland Forum, Omagh Leisure Centre and Foyle Arena, please now note the following two additional dates which have been added to the Lakeland Forum schedule.

    The Trust is implementing two additional days in The Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen, on Sunday 19 December (11am-5pm) and Monday 20 December 2021 (9am-5pm), as part of our overall enhanced vaccination programme in the Mass Vaccination Centres. These will be additional days to the planned period in Omagh Leisure Centre which will be in operation until Tuesday 28 December 2021, with the exception of closed days in all centres on 24, 25 and 26 December 2021. Those dates are to allow our staff a much needed break for Christmas during what has been a very challenging time. These additional days will now also be publicised on our channels.

    With the emergence of the Omicron variant of Covid-19 and the implementation of the enhanced vaccine programme by the Health Minister, the Western Trust have again stepped up to the significant challenge of rapidly increasing capacity. It should be highlighted that the Western Trust, in order to ensure balance across a wide rural landscape, have delivered this programme across 3 Mass Vaccination Centres, when they have been in operation, at Lakeland Forum, Omagh Leisure Centre and Foyle Arena since inception.

    The Western Trust have delivered almost 300,000 vaccine doses since the programme began and have provided a significant number of opportunities for anyone eligible to get their vaccine throughout 2021.

    The Trust’s 3 Mass vaccination Centres also operate alongside local GPs and Community Pharmacies who offer the Vaccine, a list of which can be found here: http://www.healthandcareni.net/pharmacy_rota/Covid_Moderna_Vaccination_Pharmacies.html.

    We thank all our Public Representatives for your continued support in getting this crucial message out to the public and the importance of everyone who is eligible to step forward and receive their vaccine and covid booster.

    Full details and information about the programme and who is eligible can also be found on the link below and which will continue to be updated every week.

    Click here: https://westerntrust.hscni.net/western-trust-covid-19-information-updates/covid-19-vaccination-programme/

    Who is Eligible for the Covid-19 Booster Vaccine?

    • Everyone Aged 30+ and 12 weeks or more since receiving their second dose are now eligible for the Covid-19 Booster
    • Children aged 12-17 are now also eligible for a Covid-19 Vaccine second dose, 12 weeks after their first dose
    • Anyone aged 12+ who haven’t yet received a first dose remain a priority group, as are those who for whatever reason did not get their second dose when it was due.

    Mass Vaccination Centres

    • The Western Trust, in line with regional approach, are moving back to Mass Vaccination Centres at Foyle Arena, Omagh Leisure Centre and Lakeland Forum from 15 December 2021
    • Online bookings for the receiving the Covid-19 Vaccine at the centres will be available from 15/12/21 for all centres
    • There will be limited walk-in capacity every day. Booking slots to receive vaccine online is strongly encouraged to help avoid waits.
    • Extended opening hours: Mon-Sat 9.00am – 8.00pm. Opening hours ono Sundays from 9.00am – 5.00pm until 23 December 2021.
    • The Trust have been located in The Lakeland Forum in Enniskillen since the beginning of December and will move to Omagh from 15 December and then up to and including 28 December 2021 before returning to Enniskillen. Omagh and Enniskillen will then commence a 7 day rotation basis as has been the procedure since the Vaccination programme began.
    • The Trust Centres are geared for capacity of approximately 1600 vaccinations per day (extended days, Monday-Saturday) and 1200 on shorter days (Sunday) across two open centres.
    • Bookings for end of this week made for An Chroi in Derry will be contacted directly and moved to the Foyle Arena.
    • To note: There will no longer be the requirement to wait for 15 minutes observation after receiving a second dose or a booster jab at the centres with the exception where the individual has had issues previously when receiving a vaccine.

    Schedule for Mass Vaccination Centres

    The schedule showing the Dates/Opening times for the Mass Vaccination Centres below will also be publicised and updated for the public on our Website here: https://westerntrust.hscni.net/western-trust-covid-19-information-updates/covid-19-vaccination-programme/


    15/12/2021: HSC Chairs speak out, imploring politicians and the public to “Support our Staff”

    In an unprecedented move, the 17 chairs of Northern Ireland’s health bodies and the Fire and Rescue Service have come together to call on politicians and the public to Support our Staff – following shocking increases in the levels of violence against staff – up in some cases by over 20%.

    Peter McNaney, Chair of the HSC Chairs’ Forum, said:

    “We are appalled by the increase in the levels of violence towards staff who are already exhausted and continuing to care for people in very difficult conditions. This is beyond intolerable.

    “We will discuss our concerns with Minister Swann and today we will invite him to support our call to Stop the Abuse. There are a wide range of social factors that contribute to this issue, and this will require a multiagency response – including courts, policing, and the voluntary community sector.

    “Throughout the Covid-19 pandemic, the vast majority of people in Northern Ireland have recognised the extraordinary efforts of HSC staff. As our staff put themselves at risk to care for the most vulnerable in society during the first lockdown, the public took to their doorsteps to Clap for our Carers.

    “We have heard too many reports of ambulance staff facing intimidation, receptionists at hospitals receiving verbal abuse, and doctors and nurses being threatened and even physically assaulted.

    “In the Ambulance Service alone, over 600 incidents of violence and aggression towards staff were recorded in the last year. In my own Trust in Belfast, we recorded over 2,500 physical assaults over a six-month period – a 21% increase on the previous year.”

    Eileen Mullan, Chair of the Southern HSC Trust, said:

    “This issue goes beyond the Trust – many staff are impacted – GPs, practice staff, dental, pharmacy and ophthalmology employees have all been subjected to rising levels of unacceptable verbal and physical abuse, which has resulted in some cases to staff resigning from their posts. Our staff should never have to encounter abuse or physical harm, and we unequivocally condemn this behaviour.

    “Whilst we recognise the genuine frustration of those waiting too long for care, we call on the public to  support our HSC staff, who are seeking to provide the best care possible in the circumstances.”

    Carmel McKinney, Chair of the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, said:

    “I am pleased to join HSC chairs in issuing this important statement. When staff experience intimidation or assault, the effects of these incidents are felt by the whole community. Coverage is reduced and response times are longer, as staff are unable to carry on working and we divert crews to attend from other stations. Therefore, people in vulnerable situations are also put at risk.

    “Our staff deserve much better and we will continue to do everything we can to support them through this difficult period.”

    HSC chairs have today written to every MLA, asking them to be unified in their support for staff and crucial public health messaging. Chairs are also asking the public to remember the importance of taking practical steps to help our health service and those who work in it during this most difficult of winters, by:

    • Working from home, where possible
    • Wearing a mask in crowded, indoor spaces
    • Maintaining good hand hygiene
    • Ensuring indoor spaces are well-ventilated
    • Self-isolating and getting a PCR test if experiencing Covid-19 symptoms
    • Most importantly, we urge people to come forward to receive their Covid-19 vaccine, booster and flu jab when invited.

    These are the simple steps we can all take to Support our Staff.


    14/12/2021: Update on the Western Trust Covid-19 Vaccine Programme

    Who is Eligible for the Covid-19 Booster Vaccine?

    • Everyone Aged 30+ and 12 weeks or more since receiving their second dose are now eligible for the Covid-19 Booster
    • Children aged 12-17 are now also eligible for a Covid-19 Vaccine second dose, 12 weeks after their first dose
    • Anyone aged 12+ who haven’t yet received a first dose remain a priority group, as are those who for whatever reason did not get their second dose when it was due.

    Mass Vaccination Centres

    • The Western Trust, in line with regional approach, are moving back to Mass Vaccination Centres at Foyle Arena, Omagh Leisure Centre and Lakeland Forum from 15 December 2021
    • Online bookings for the receiving the Covid-19 Vaccine at the centres will be available from 15/12/21 for all centres
    • There will be limited walk-in capacity every day. Booking slots to receive vaccine online is strongly encouraged to help avoid waits.
    • Extended opening hours: Mon-Sat 9.00am – 8.00pm. Opening hours ono Sundays from 9.00am – 5.00pm until 23 December 2021.
    • The Trust have been located in The Lakeland Forum in Enniskillen since the beginning of December and will move to Omagh from 15 December and then up to and including 28 December 2021 before returning to Enniskillen. Omagh and Enniskillen will then commence a 7 day rotation basis as has been the procedure since the Vaccination programme began.
    • The Trust Centres are geared for capacity of approximately 1600 vaccinations per day (extended days, Monday-Saturday) and 1200 on shorter days (Sunday) across two open centres.
    • Bookings for end of this week made for An Chroi in Derry will be contacted directly and moved to the Foyle Arena.
    • To note: There will no longer be the requirement to wait for 15 minutes observation after receiving a second dose or a booster jab at the centres with the exception where the individual has had issues previously when receiving a vaccine.

    Schedule for Mass Vaccination Centres.

    The schedule showing the Dates/Opening times for the Mass Vaccination Centres below will also be publicised and updated for the public on our Website here: https://westerntrust.hscni.net/western-trust-covid-19-information-updates/covid-19-vaccination-programme/

      Foyle Arena Omagh Leisure Complex Lakeland Forum
    Wed 15/12/21 9.00am – 8.00pm 9.00am – 8.00pm CLOSED
    Thurs 16/12/21 9.00am – 8.00pm 9.00am – 8.00pm CLOSED
    Fri 17/12/21 9.00am – 8.00pm 9.00am – 8.00pm CLOSED
    Sat 18/12/21 9.00am – 8.00pm 9.00am – 8.00pm CLOSED
    Sun 19/12/21 9.00am – 5.00pm 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED
    Mon 20/12/21 9.00am – 8.00pm 9.00am – 8.00pm CLOSED
    Tues 21/12/21 9.00am – 8.00pm 9.00am – 8.00pm CLOSED
    Wed 22/12/21 9.00am – 8.00pm 9.00am – 8.00pm CLOSED
    Thurs 23/12/21 9.00am – 5.00pm 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED
    Fri 24/12/21 CLOSED CLOSED CLOSED
    Sat 25/12/21 CLOSED CLOSED CLOSED
    Sun 26/12/21 CLOSED CLOSED CLOSED
    Mon 27/12/21 9.00am – 5.00pm 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED
    Tues 28/12/21 9.00am – 5.00pm 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED
    Wed 29/12/21 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED 9.00am – 5.00pm
    Thurs 30/12/21 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED 9.00am – 5.00pm
    Fri 31/12/21 9.00am – 12.00pm CLOSED 9.00am – 12.00pm
    Sat 1/1/22 CLOSED CLOSED CLOSED
    Sun 2/1/22 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED 9.00am – 5.00pm
    Mon 3/1/22 9.00am – 8.00pm CLOSED 9.00am – 8.00pm
    Tues 4/1/22 9.00am – 8.00pm CLOSED 9.00am – 8.00pm
    Wed 5/1/22 9.00am – 8.00pm CLOSED 9.00am – 8.00pm
    Thurs 6/1/22 9.00am – 8.00pm CLOSED 9.00am – 8.00pm
    Fri 7/1/22 9.00am – 8.00pm CLOSED 9.00am – 8.00pm
    Sat 8/1/22 9.00am – 8.00pm CLOSED 9.00am – 8.00pm
    Sun 9/1/22 9.00am – 5.00pm CLOSED 9.00am – 5.00pm

     

    Lakeland Forum and Templemore Centre closed on Sunday 12 December 2021

    The Western Trust made the decision not to open the Vaccine Centres at Templemore and Lakeland Forum on Sunday 12 December 2021 at the end of last week, due to the very low level of bookings which had been made in the run up to the weekend as the level of bookings would not have justified opening these centres. We apologise that this was not updated on the Trust website and to anyone who was inconvenienced by the Templemore and Lakeland Forum Vaccine Centres being unavailable on Sunday 12 December.

    The Western Trust have delivered over 290,000 vaccine doses since the programme began and have provided a significant number of opportunities for anyone eligible to get their vaccine throughout 2021. Indeed this is now being further enhanced in the weeks ahead with Mass Vaccination Centres, initially in Foyle Arena and Omagh Leisure Centre, open for 7 days per week, with the exception of Christmas closure days (see schedule on the link below for exact days and times of opening) and also for extended periods during each day for 6 days per week.

    The Trust, as part of an overall regional approach, is now stepping up and enhancing the vaccine programme to ensure opportunities for everyone eligible to receive their 1st and/or 2nd Covid Vaccine or Covid Booster Vaccine and full details in a comprehensive schedule is now available on our website. Full details and information about the programme and who is eligible can also be found on this link, which will continue to be updated every week.

    Click here: https://westerntrust.hscni.net/western-trust-covid-19-information-updates/covid-19-vaccination-programme/

    Updates will continue be available to Public Representative’s on our Public Representative’s Online hub (private page) – https://westerntrust.hscni.net/public-representatives/


    06/12/2021: Update on Neonatal Services

    The Neonatal Nursing staffing remains under extreme pressure, with difficulty in recruiting experienced neonatal trained nurses. Regional advertisement to date has not proved very successful.

    We recognise that there is neonatal nurse staffing crisis regionally and with the help of senior HR managers  we are now  looking to advertising UK wide. We have amended Job Descriptions in an attempt to make jobs more attractive to potential candidates and we follow each advertisement up with a comment on the Trust Facebook page.

    In the interim, we will ensure that both units remain safe for babies and on occasions this may mean reducing cots or introducing our SWAH Contingency plans. All of this is done with collaboration form our local Neonatal and Obstetric Teams and has been escalated to the Neonatal Network.

    Neonatal Nursing staffing remains on our Trust Risk Register, and remains high on our Directorate Governance Agenda with all efforts made to ensure a long term delivery plan of neonatal care in SWAH.


    06/12/2021: Approval for new Lisnaskea Health and Care Centre

    Health Minister Robin Swann has announced approval of £18.5million business case for a new Health and Care Centre in Lisnaskea.

    The new facility, which is to be built on the former Lisnaskea High School site, will support the delivery of high quality integrated primary and community care services for the population of Lisnaskea and surrounding East Fermanagh area.

    Making the announcement today, Minister Swann said:

    “Last year I visited Lisnaskea, I met with some of the staff and I saw the facilities they were having to make do with. It left me in no doubt of the necessity and importance of the development of the Health and Care Centre for Lisnaskea and the wider East Fermanagh community. That is why I wanted to take it on a priority and I am pleased to confirm approval of the Outline Business Case.

    “The new health and care centre will provide a central hub in Lisnaskea and will enable linkages with rural GP practices. This will support a network of 16 GPs and will provide services to a combined practice list of around 25,000 people. The new 3,500m2 facility will bring services together under one roof including GP, Trust Community and Day Care services. This will provide improved accessibility and increased provision of services in Lisnaskea such as Podiatry, Speech & Language Therapy, Physiotherapy, Mental Health Services and Older People services.

    “In addition, it will address spatial issues currently experienced by GPs which have been compounded over recent years through retirements of rural standalone GPs in the area and a subsequent increase in the number of patients attending Lisnaskea for their care and treatment. When finished the centre will provide the space needed for future service developments.”

    Minister Swann added:

    “Investing in Primary Care Infrastructure is a critical element of the work being undertaken to transform health and social care for the population of Northern Ireland. Lisnaskea Health and Care Centre represents a significant capital investment which will provide vital services and clinics to the surrounding area and will be dedicated to providing high-quality care for generations to come.”

    Approval of the business case paves the way for the Western Health and Social Care Trust to proceed with site acquisition and progress to the next stages in the design and tendering process.

    Welcoming the approval Neil Guckian Chief Executive of the Western Trust said:

    “Today’s news is an important first step in the development of the Lisnaskea Health and Care Centre which will provide enhanced health care for Lisnaskea and East Fermanagh. It will also facilitate the wider economic development of the region through temporary construction jobs during the building of the facility.”

    The new centre will enable both Trust and the GP Medical Practice to expand and enhance local medical and social care service needs currently delivered from existing constricted and widely dispersed accommodation in Lisnaskea and Enniskillen. On completion, the development will improve accessibility and will see the co-location of services within one facility, and also an increase in the range of services available in Lisnaskea. This will also support integrated service delivery, provide increased support for older people, and improve delivery of mental health services.

    The new Lisnaskea Health and Care Centre is projected to open in Spring 2025.


    03/12/2021: Latest Update Briefing to MLAs and MPs

    CLICK HERE for Powerpoint Presentation

    Acute Hospital Services update

    Attendances at ED Altnagelvin have reduced however the acuity of those attending has increased. Patients are acutely unwell and more complex

    SWAH attendances have increased as has the acuity of those patients also.

    The number of patients waiting admission on a daily basis has reduced slightly across both sites

    Patients who are covid positive and requiring admission to hospital has also reduced

    Two hospital Reset days have taken place on 13th October and 10th November at Altnagelvin. Senior managers from all directorates and disciplines attended all wards and departments to review each patient on site and to take forward key actions that will support and enhance flow over the Winter months. Dates are being agreed for SWAH.

    Critical care units have de-escalated in both hospitals – SWAH back to baseline, Altnagelvin has reduced bed numbers from 13 (surge level 2a ) to 11 (surge level 1) with a plan to reduce further to baseline by end of week.

    Elective care delivery remains reduced with 84 sessions delivered this week – 30 in patient and 54 day case. We are currently assessing the potential to increase this number as critical care pressures reduce

     

    ED Campaign

    With winter pressures looming large, a fresh set of messages and content was required to once again engage the public and help ease the pressure on our departments and their staff

    Our Winter 2021 ED Communications Campaign: Best For You

    Where is the best location for you to attend?

    When is the best time for you to go there?

    Who is the best person for you to see?

    What is the best option available for you?

    We are doing our very “best for you” in difficult and trying circumstances

    We only ever want the “best for you”

    Creation of an ED/Emergency Online Hub

    Central to the success of the new campaign is the creation of a new hub on the WT website. This is where all social posts will direct to, and also will allow signposting easily to the relevant info.

    • Emergency 999 messaging
    • Phone First messaging
    • Three sites profiled: Altnagelvin ED, SWAH ED, UCTC OHPCC
    • GP information
    • Community pharmacy information

    We will subsequently add additional content to this hub over time once it appears on our social channels to help keep things fresh. This will include:

    • Tours/behind the scenes of ED dept
    • What is Triage?
    • What is “awaiting admission”?
    • Profiles of the different roles within ED
    • Ambulance arrival doesn’t necessarily mean seen first

    New-Look Social Posts

    New content has been created (video + photography) including clinical personnel, recreation of scenes within ED.

    New fresh designs, colour palette with accent colours for key messaging

    Suite of graphics and videos pre-prepared and approved for use at short notice when ED under extreme pressures – “this weekend,” “tonight” etc.

    Proactive video content around any trends – eg Bronchiolitis, falls on ice

    Ongoing public education posts around locations, Phone First, UCTC, OOH GP etc.

     

    Vaccine Programme Update

    What we’ve done…

    • Care home programme completed – 60 care homes across the Trust.
    • Completed Supported Living facilities, LD Centre and homeless boosters – 1000 doses across 50+ sites
    • Schools vaccination programme almost complete – 37 schools visited, 5300+ vaccines administered.
    • Hosted the Big Jab Weekend for 12-17 year olds – over 600 doses administered in two days
    • Finished up our staff vaccine programme at our three hospital site hubs – staff will continue to present at the Mass Vaccination Centres.

     

    What we’re doing next…

    On the back of recent JCVI announcements, the DoH have asked the Trust to expand capacity for the booster programme and other priority groups.

    • We have reopened large centres to facilitate first dose, second dose, and booster jabs, from December 1st. These clinics will also facilitate walk-ins. Centres are open 7 days per week, 9.00am-4.30pm daily and 12.00pm-8.00pm Mondays and Thursdays.

    1st Dec 2021 – 14th Dec 2021
    Templemore Sports Complex, Derry
    Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen

    15th Dec 2021 – 21st Dec 2021
    An Chroi Community Centre, Hillcrest Road, Waterside, Derry
    Omagh Leisure Centre, Omagh

    • Those in the Omagh area will have two opportunities to receive their jab at mobile clinics at Beragh Red Knights Community Hub on Monday 6th December and at Ecclesville Centre Fintona on Tuesday December 7th. (Both 5.00pm – 9.00pm) These are booked clinics ONLY and numbers are limited – no walk ins will be facilitated on the evening.
    • Those seeking a first or second dose vaccination can still avail of their local participating community pharmacy. This will be the Moderna vaccine.
    • The plan going forward into the new year is currently being developed

     

    Updated Guidance + Impacts on WT Vaccine Programme…

    • Boosters for everyone 18+ in due course
    • Second dose for 12-15’s at 12 week interval
    • Dose interval for 50+ reduced to 12 weeks, rest to follow
    • Fourth dose for immuno-suppressed from January
    • Booster programme now likely to run until March
    • May require moves to bigger centres again
    • First priority group: Unvaccinated of all ages
    • Second priority group: Older people (50+) boosters

     

    Neonatal Update:

    The Neonatal Nursing staffing remains under extreme pressure, with difficulty in recruiting experienced neonatal trained nurses. Regional advertisement to date has not proved very successful.

    We recognise that there is neonatal nurse staffing crisis regionally and with the help of senior HR managers  we are now  looking to advertising UK wide. We have amended Job Descriptions in an attempt to make jobs more attractive to potential candidates and we follow each advertisement up with a comment on the Trust Facebook page.

    In the interim, we will ensure that both units remain safe for babies and on occasions this may mean reducing cots or introducing our SWAH Contingency plans. All of this is done with collaboration form our local Neonatal and Obstetric Teams and has been escalated to the Neonatal Network.

    Neonatal Nursing staffing remains on our Trust Risk Register, and remains high on our Directorate Governance Agenda with all efforts made to ensure a long term delivery plan of neonatal care in SWAH.

     

    Domestic Violence and Adult Safeguarding Campaigns update:

    NOTE: Graphics, Visulas and Video campaign package to be issued to all MLa/MPs/Public Representatives on Monday 6 December 2021

    16 days of Action is a global campaign of activism against domestic violence and gender based violence.  It started on 25th November finishing on 10th December which is World Human Rights Day.

    The WHSCT have a media campaign contributing both videos from senior managers and graphics highlighting the Effects on children, coercive control, impact during pregnancy, the impact on both women and male victims, the impact on older people and the impact COVID 19 has had on the increase of Domestic violence. Our campaign has been highlighting Northern Ireland statistics and the fact there has been 19000 reported domestic violence crimes in 2020 and  11 women have been murdered in Northern Ireland since the beginning of Lockdown (March 2020) our campaign will remember these women and all victims.

     

    The Western Trust are also facilitating two training events organised in partnership with Foyle Women’s Aid and the PSNI both events are multi-professional and staff across the Trust and from key partner agencies have been encouraged to attend this is also to highlight the need for a multi-agency/professional approach to tackle domestic violence and support victims of domestic violence. The first event occurs on the 6th December which is day 12. Women’s aid will be facilitating a presentation raising awareness of domestic violence and will also be an opportunity to learn about the resources available within the umbrella of Foyle Women’s Aid.  Sarah Quinn will discuss the Dress for Success Project and we will also hear from the VOICES forum where women who have survived domestic violence share their experiences.  Finally Donna Service from the Trusts Domestic Violence Team will discuss the Get Ready Go Project.

     

    On the 8th December which is Day 14 we will hear from Judge Barney McElholm and his involvement in seeing the new Foyle Family Justice Centre come to fruition.  Marie Brown from Foyle Women’s aid will tell us about the centre itself.  Foyle Family Justice Centre is the first in Ireland.  It is based in Bishop Street (in the old Poundstretcher building) and will be a one stop support centre with over 20+ public and Charitable agencies in the one place that means that people seeking help don’t have to visit a variety of places and reduce the number of time they have to tell their story.

    Derek Ballard and Ursula McElroy from PANNI will discuss their role and how it sits with the new centre.

    Colin Neill from PSNI about ABE interviews and how these will also be taking place in the justice Centre.

     

    Briefing Update: Short Break Facility at Rosebud Cottages

     

    The short break facility at Rosebud Cottages will be closing, as part of a temporary interim arrangement, for up to three months from Friday 3 December 2021.

    To Note: Rosebud Cottages is a Short Break facility for Disabled Children, with capacity in normal circumstances for six Children. The Trust also has another Short Break Facility in Omagh called Avalon House with capacity in normal circumstances for eight Children.

    In respect of this temporary closure the Western Trust have looked at all possible options available to deal with an emerging crisis situation and a final decision has been made to facilitate this temporary interim arrangement in order to deal with this, having exhausted all other options.

    As part of this temporary arrangement, the Trust will do everything to minimise any possible impact this may have for any families affected. The Trust will therefore carry out an individual re-assessment of all families in order to identify any ‘alternative supports’ which may be needed as part of forward planning. Furthermore, any reassessment of a child’s needs may include securing any additional resources to meet these needs where required, including a creative and flexible use of other Trust facilities; community facilities, other resources/providers, self- directed support or use of the current staffing within Rosebud Cottages.

    The Trust has maintained regular contact with all families affected by the temporary closure of Rosebud Cottages.

    All families were written to on Monday 9th November informing them of the temporary closure of the facility. Follow up phone calls were also made to each family to advise that individual re-assessments would be carried out the weeks that followed in order to identify any ‘alternative supports’ which may be needed as part of forward planning.

    The Trust was unable to provide a specific date for the temporary closure of the facility due to a number of factors beyond our control. However, provisions were made to ensure the facility remained open to allow families a short break during the month of November. A provisional date (for the temporary closure) of Friday 3rdDecember 2021 has been provided to families. We will continue to communicate with families in the coming days regarding this.

    We would advise any families who wish to discuss directly the provision of care for their loved one to contact the manager at Rosebud Cottages.

  • November 2021

    26/11/2021: Vaccine Programme Update

    • This weekend (Sat 26 & Sun 27 November) will see WHSCT complement the schools vaccination programme by hosting vaccination clinics in our three hubs: Altnagelvin Hospital, T&F Hospital, South West Acute Hospital. These are booked appointments only, no walk-ins available.
    • We will reopen centres to facilitate Age 40+ Covid-booster vaccine doses, and 16-17 second dose, from December 1st. These clinics will also facilitate walk-ins, and will have late evenings. The plan at present is:
      • 01 Dec 21 – 14 Dec 21
        • Templemore Sports Complex, Derry
        • Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen
      • 15 Dec 21 – 21 Dec 21
        • An Chroi Community Centre, Hillcrest Road, Waterside, Derry
        • Omagh Leisure Centre, Omagh
      • Online booking for all of these clinics is NOW LIVE at https://COVID-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated Walk-ins will also be facilitated at each centre.

     

    • Those in the Omagh area will have two opportunities to receive their jab prior to the centre opening at mobile clinics at Beragh Red Knights Community Hub on Monday 6 December from 5.00pm – 9.00pm, and at Ecclesville Centre Fintona on Tuesday 7 December. Both of these are booked clinics ONLY and numbers are limited – no walk-ins will be facilitated on the evening. Online booking for both these clinics will open early next week at https://COVID-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated, details will be shared on the Western Trust social channels and website once live.
    • Those seeking a first or second dose vaccination can still avail of their local participating community pharmacy. This will be the Moderna vaccine. For a full list of pharmacies, see this interactive map.
    • We are almost complete with our sheltered accommodation and LD centre booster vaccine programme. This saw almost 1000 doses administered in more than 50 facilities.
    • *UPDATED GUIDANCE* Under 18s should now only receive a vaccine 12 weeks following a positive COVID test, or showing COVID symptoms. This has been raised from the previous four weeks.
    • There is further detail in respect of the Vaccine Big Jab weekend for 12-17 years olds on the Public Representative’s Online Hub here: https://westerntrust.hscni.net/public-representatives/

    25/11/21: Appeal for public support with timely step down from hospital care

    Health and Social Care organisations across Northern Ireland today welcomed the Health Minster’s announcement of a support package of up to £23m for domiciliary care and the social care sector.

    As Winter approaches, our health and care service is dealing with extreme bed pressures due to increased demands for urgent and emergency care and sustained high levels of Covid-19 infection in our communities. All our hospitals are working beyond capacity at present with many very ill patients waiting for hospital beds.

    In Northern Ireland, as of Monday 22 November 2021, 205 people were in Emergency Departments waiting for a hospital bed to become available. Meanwhile 222 people were in hospital beds medically fit for discharge but delayed by the need for suitable care packages to facilitate their discharge. There were 589 available beds in care homes.

    The co-operation of patients, their families and carers is essential to support discharge and help us free up beds during this extremely busy time.

    Brendan Whittle, Director of Social Care and Children with the Health and Social Care Board said:

    “We appeal for the public’s support in these challenging times. We are asking you to help by working with our staff and standing by them so they can continue to help patients and their families get the care and treatment they need.

    “Everyone is aware that as Winter pressures escalate, Health and Social Care services across the region come under huge strain. The pandemic is far from over and we are asking patients and their families to support us by accepting ‘step-down’ bed options from hospital to make capacity for those very ill patients who require hospital care. To support these arrangements, care home fees have been waived for patients who step down from hospital to care homes beds until their package becomes available.

    “We are already indebted to our health and social care staff who continue to work hard to ensure that patients receive the treatment and care that they need this Winter despite an already challenging year. To assist them, we are asking that patients do not remain in hospital any longer than necessary. We also need families wherever possible, to provide transport to transfer loved ones from hospital in a timely manner when required.”

    To help free up beds required for very sick patients, Health and Social Care (HSC) is issuing the following request for support from patients and their families:

    • If patients are deemed medically fit by the consultant/senior doctor to go home, they and their families should ensure that there are arrangements in place to be picked up promptly on the day of discharge. Medical and nursing teams can help you make these arrangements.
    • If patients are deemed medically fit by the consultant/senior doctor to go home and are waiting on a care home placement, HSC Trust staff will allocate the first place that is suitable for you. This may not necessarily be your first choice, but it is important to note that HSC Trusts will work closely with you to transfer your family member to your home of first choice at the earliest possible date.
    • Patients who step down to care homes will receive their domiciliary care package as soon as it becomes available. Provision of your care package will remain a priority and you will not be disadvantaged or placed at the bottom of a queue.
    • If you are deemed medically fit by the consultant/senior doctor to go home, and there is a delay in sourcing new or additional home care (domiciliary care), you may be discharged and these elements of your care package will be organised when you get home. Additional family support may be required until the home care package is finalised.

    23/11/2021: Big Jab Weekend for 12-17 year olds

    The Western  Trust will be supporting the regional Big Jab Weekend for 12-17 year-olds on Saturday 27 November and Sunday 28 November by opening up our three vaccination hubs to those aged 12-17 seeking a first dose jab of the COVID-19 vaccine.

    *PLEASE NOTE* These are not walk-in clinics, and all slots MUST be booked in advance.

    The clinics will take place from 9.00am until 4.30pm next Saturday and Sunday at the following locations:

    Venue Date Time
    Level 5, Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry Sat 27 Nov 9.00am-4.30pm
    Level 5, Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry Sun 28 Nov 9.00am-4.30pm
    Key Workers Accommodation, South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen Sat 27 Nov 9.00am-4.30pm
    Key Workers Accommodation, South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen Sun 28 Nov 9.00am-4.30pm
    Old School Canteen, Tyrone & Fermanagh Hospital, Omagh Sat 27 Nov 9.00am-4.30pm
    Old School Canteen, Tyrone & Fermanagh Hospital, Omagh Sun 28 Nov 9.00am-4.30pm

    Booking for these clinics is NOW OPEN at https://COVID-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated. Slots are limited and are expected to fill up quickly.

    These clinics are for first dose vaccinations only. Vaccine doses to those under 18 years should be administered a minimum of 12 weeks after the onset of symptoms or testing positive for COVID.

    These additional clinics are intended to complement the extensive schools vaccination programme which is currently active across the Western Trust.

    Further opportunities for vaccination outside of school, including walk-ins, will be available from Wednesday 1st December at alternative centres. Please follow the Western Trust social channels and website for further information.

    For further information on the 12 to 17 years old vaccine programme, please see:

    COVID-19 vaccination for children and young people aged 12 to 17 years | HSC Public Health Agency (hscni.net)

    Garrett Martin, Western Trust Lead for COVID-19 Vaccination Programme said:

    “This Big Jab weekend is complementing our ongoing schools vaccination programme. It is an opportunity for 12-17 year olds who may have missed when the vaccination team visited their school or who wish to have a parent accompany them to their jab to come along to one of our three vaccination hubs.  It is also an opportunity for young people or their parent/guardian to speak with our clinical staff if they have any concerns. We would encourage all young people aged between 12 and 17 years old to get their COVID-19 vaccination as this virus is still very much prevalent in our communities, including our schools and this is the best way for them to protect themselves, family members and friends over the Winter months.

    Garrett added:

    “The National Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recently changed its guidance to advise that under-18s should not get a their Covid-19 vaccine until 12 weeks following a positive test, or displaying of COVID symptoms (the previous guidance was four weeks) which will have an impact on the time taken to complete our Schools Vaccination Programme. Therefore, it is extremely important that everyone plays their part in continuing to adhere to the public health messages by washing their hands, wearing a face covering and maintaining social distancing were possible. Vaccination is without doubt saving lives. When we get immunised, we are protecting ourselves, protecting others and protecting the health service. It is the single biggest contribution people can make to getting normality back. It will help open doors to nights out, travel, music and sports events and to so many other things we have missed so much since the start of the pandemic.”

    To find out about up to date information, including slot availability, opening times and information about our Mobile other Pop-Up Clinics you can visit the Trust Vaccination Webpage: https://westerntrust.hscni.net/western-trust-covid-19-information-updates/covid-19-vaccination-programme/

    If you are planning to attend one of our Centres, Pop Up or Mobile Vaccination Clinics, please do not do so if you:

    • Are currently unwell with a high temperature or fever
    • Have had a first positive test for COVID-19 in the last 28 Days
    • You have been advised to self-isolate

    Anyone attending is reminded to wear a face covering (unless exempt for medical reasons), adhere to social distancing rules and bring along their Health and Care Number (HCN) and ID if possible.


    03/11/2021: Get on board with vaccination certification app

    The time is right to download your vaccine certification app. That’s the message from the Department of Health following the launch of a new version of the COVIDCert NI app

    It now offers separate vaccination certificates for both foreign travel and domestic use. These QR codes provide official confirmation that you have had both your Covid-19 vaccine doses.

    Now is a good time to get both certificates on your phone or other mobile device. We have set up a dedicated helpline, and have staff ready to help you, should you have any problems getting through the process. It makes sense to get on board in the next month while things are less busy.

    You no longer have to be travelling abroad within a set time period to apply. You can be planning a holiday next month, next year or even further ahead. The app will automatically renew itself, so you only have to download it once. It’s likely to be in greater demand ahead of holiday periods – Christmas, half-term, Easter, summer. So you can beat the rush by getting the app now.

    Hospitality and entertainment venues in NI are being encouraged to use domestic vaccination certificates on a voluntary basis. Having the domestic certificate on your phone is user friendly and more reliable than using the printed vaccination cards. It also means you don’t have to produce separate proof of ID.

    Decisions on whether domestic certification would be introduced on a compulsory basis in Northern Ireland settings will rest with the NI Executive.  The Executive’s recently published Covid-19 autumn/winter contingency plan sets out a number of potential contingency measures which the Executive may decide to use including “the potential to deploy COVID status certification in higher risk settings if considered appropriate and necessary”.

    The Cert Check NI app is free to download and can be used on a smartphone or tablet device.

    If you cannot apply online, you can request a paper version using the telephone service 0300 200 7814, available Monday to Sunday from 8.00 am to 8.00 pm.

    Further information and download details are available on the nidirect website, the Apple store and on Google Play.

  • October 2021

    29/10/2021: Foyle Day Care Update

    The Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) was informed by Foyle Day Care, located at the MDEC Building at Altnagelvin Area Hospital, that it will cease operations with immediate effect from 5 pm today, Friday, 29 October 2021.

    The independent facility has supported the childcare needs of Western Trust staff for many years and parents have been sent letters informing them of the decision to close.

    Those seeking further information or to arrange alternative childcare arrangements have been signposted towards the FSNI website for additional information.


    29/10/2021: Western Trust Staff Call Update

    The Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) can confirm it has issued a call for staff to fill nursing and health care assistant shifts at Altnagelvin Hospital and the South West Acute Hospital from tonight (Friday 29th October) until Monday.

    Any staff available to cover a shift over the weekend and currently hold a Bank Contract, please contact the Bank Office on 028 7161 1123 (Open 9am to 5pm today, Saturday and Sunday).  Staff with a Trust contract should contact their own Ward and Department if they have any availability.

    This call is the latest in a series as Health Trusts across Northern Ireland endure a sustained and well publicised period of increased pressures.

    The Western Trust would take this opportunity to remind the public that the Emergency Departments at Altnagelvin Area Hospital and South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen continue to be extremely busy and are expecting increased level of attendances over the Halloween period.

    As we continue to deal with these pressures, it is important that anyone who is medically fit for discharge are able to leave the hospital as quickly and efficiently as possible and that family are able to facilitate patients getting home.

    Please only come to ED if you have a medical or mental health emergency. Please find suitable alternative healthcare options available to you, such as your GP Out of Hours or the Urgent Care and Treatment Centre at the Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex.

    If you are attending the ED. Please observe all the Covid-19 measures in place.

    Phone First is in operation in our Emergency Departments and Urgent Care and Treatment Centre. The number to ring is: 0300 020 6000 / Text Relay Number: 0870 240 5152


    29/10/2021: Homecare Optimisation Update

    The Trust established the Homecare Optimisation project in 2019. The objective of the project is to optimise existing and future domiciliary care services on a Trustwide basis ensuring a safe, effective, accessible and affordable service.  All seven independent sector domiciliary care providers with whom the Trust contracts with have formally committed to working with the Trust on this initiative.

    The project will help to stabilise and sustain domiciliary care services and also address emerging pressures within the sector, in particular workforce planning.  Additional capacity generated by the project will allow the Trust to respond to existing pressures such as hospital discharges, waiting lists, hard to reach areas and future growth in demand.

    The project was unavoidably delayed due to Covid-19 although has been successfully introduced to some extent in areas within Enniskillen, Cityside, Waterside and Strabane in the past two years.

    In rolling out the changes associated with Homecare Optimisation there will be changes to some individual service delivery arrangements. The Project Team, working in partnership with Social Work colleagues, will liaise closely with affected individuals and providers to ensure any disruption is appropriately addressed.  It is important to note that Service Users will not have a reduction in services.

    The Limavady locality is the first area where the process is being applied to all providers simultaneously.

    The initial intention was to affect the transition on 1 November 2021.

    However the Trust has decided to pause this temporarily to address some issues that have emerged and to ensure that all appropriate safeguards are in place.  The revised implementation date will now be Monday 10 January 2022.

    Regards

    Dr Bob Brown

    Executive Director of Nursing, Primary Care and Older People’s Services


    22/10/2021: Western Trust Service Delivery Plan including Resilience Plan to Address Winter Pressures and any Subsequent Waves in COVID-19 Pandemic – October 2021 Onwards

    CLICK HERE to read: URGENT WRITTEN STATEMENT TO THE ASSEMBLY BY HEALTH MINISTER ROBIN SWANN – FRIDAY 22 OCTOBER 2021 AT 2PM – WINTER PREPAREDNESS AND TRUST WINTER AND SURGE DELIVERY PLANS

    Western Trust Service Delivery Plan including Resilience Plan to Address Winter Pressures and any Subsequent Waves in COVID-19 Pandemic – October 2021 Onwards

    This Service Delivery Plan describes the actions the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) will take during October to December 2021 and beyond to respond to the increased pressures that customarily occur during the Winter 2021/22 period and any further surge of COVID-19.

    Entering the winter months the Trust is committed to taking a carefully considered and balanced approach to the delivery of services taking into account lessons learned over the past 18 months in responding to the pandemic whilst also recognising the wider impact the pandemic continues to have on both our service users and local community and our staff.  The global pandemic continues to present the health and social care system with unprecedented challenges which impact on how services can be safely delivered.  As has been the case throughout the pandemic, the Trust is committed to planning and working as a collective with the whole HSC system over the coming months.

    This plan focuses on three areas describing how the Trust will deliver increased resilience through this challenging autumn and winter period:

    1. Winter Pressures for both adults and paediatrics including our estimated bed projections, actions to secure the appropriate level of suitably trained staff and our response to the influenza virus.
    2. COVID-19 (4th surge) – this sets out across key service areas the actions required to meet the demands of the pandemic whilst continuing to apply the key regional planning principles of equity of access for the treatment of patients, minimizing the transmission of COVID-19 and protecting the most urgent services.
    3. The delivery of key regional priorities for unscheduled care, elective care, cancer services, adult social care, children’s services, mental health and physical disability services.

    CLICK HERE to view the Western Trust Service Delivery Plan 


    13/10/2021: Flu and Covid vaccination plans detailed

    The Department of Health has set out the different components of the winter vaccination drive across Northern Ireland.

    The flu vaccination programme is now underway, while Covid vaccination is also ongoing, including the booster programme.

    Work to bring the Covid vaccines, Covid vaccine boosters and flu jabs to eligible members of the community includes:

    * Covid vaccine booster jabs: As with the original vaccination programme itself, the booster programme has started with care homes and frontline health and social care workers.

    In line with the advice from the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation, everyone aged 50 and over will be eligible for a booster jab, once six months has passed from their second Covid vaccine dose.

    Eligibility also covers those aged 16 to 49 years with underlying health conditions that put them at higher risk of severe Covid-19, adult carers and adult household contacts of immunosuppressed individuals.

    The booster programme will primarily be delivered by GPs and community pharmacies.  Trusts are vaccinating care home residents and their own frontline staff while community pharmacies will initially be vaccinating non-Trust employed frontline health care staff before moving on to the general public.

    GPs will be starting to invite those patients who are now beyond the six month period from their second dose to receive their booster. GPs have the option of providing Covid booster and flu jabs together or separately.

    * Covid vaccination for 12-15-year-olds: A single vaccine dose is being offered to 12-15-year-olds. This will principally be done through school vaccination visits in October and November. Consent forms will be sent home to parents.

    In addition to the school-based programme, other opportunities for 12-15-year-olds to get the jab are planned for later this month.

    Advice for young people and parents on Covid vaccination is available here:

    https://www.publichealth.hscni.net/covid-19-coronavirus/northern-ireland-covid-19-vaccination-programme/covid-19-vaccination-0

    * Covid vaccination for 16-17-year-olds: A single vaccine dose is continuing to be offered to 16-17-year-olds. They can get their jabs at any of the Trust second dose walk-in clinics being held at various locations across NI. Details of locations can be found at NI Direct.  https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/get-covid-19-vaccination-northern-ireland

    * First dose Covid vaccination for 18 plus age group: It is never too late to take up the opportunity to get vaccinated in order to protect yourself and those around you.  More than 130 local pharmacies are now offering Covid-19 vaccination by appointment to anyone who has not yet been vaccinated. For more details on participating pharmacies offering vaccine appointments in your area, visit NI Direct. https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/get-covid-19-vaccination-northern-ireland or check out this interactive map: http://www.healthandcareni.net/pharmacy_rota/Covid_Moderna_Vaccination_Pharmacies.html

    Second dose Covid vaccination for 18 plus age group: Health Trusts are providing walk-in clinics at different locations for people to get their second Covid-19 doses. Details of locations can be found at NI Direct.  https://www.nidirect.gov.uk/articles/get-covid-19-vaccination-northern-ireland

    * Third dose Covid vaccination for people who are severely immunosuppressed:

    People eligible under this category have been identified by Trusts or GP and invited by letter to book their third jab.

    *Flu jab roll out: Those eligible for the 2021/22 winter flu vaccine in NI are listed below. GPs will have a central role in offering flu vaccination to eligible patients in a rolling programme. To encourage take-up, community pharmacies will offer an additional route to vaccination for all health and social care workers and for all those aged 50.

    School vaccinator teams will bring the winter flu vaccine to schools, while Trust Occupational Health teams will again be busy vaccinating Trust employees.

    Eligible groups for winter flu vaccine:

    • all preschool children aged 2 to 4 years on 1 September 2021
    • all primary and secondary (up to year 12) school children
    • those aged 6 months to 2 years and 16 to 49 years in clinical risk groups
    • pregnant women
    • those aged 50 years and over
    • those in long-stay residential care homes
    • carers
    • close contacts of immunocompromised individuals
    • Frontline health and social care workers employed by:
    • Health and Social Care Trusts including NIAS
    • community HSC providers including GP practices, pharmacies, dentists
    • registered independent sector residential care or nursing home
    • registered domiciliary care providers
    • voluntary managed hospice provider
  • September 2021

    24/09/2021: All Western Trust Hospital Sites move to 1-1-1 Visiting Arrangements

    The Western Trust has announced that all of its Hospital sites are to move to the same ‘1-1-1’ visiting restrictions, (one visitor per patient for one hour, once a day), with effect from 00:01, on Monday 27th September, 2021 (in most circumstances).

    These changes will bring all Western Trust Hospital sites back in line with the regional Department of Health visiting guidance for the first time since the beginning of the fourth Covid surge in mid-July.

    Commenting on the new guidance, Western Trust Executive Director of Nursing, Primary Care and Older People’s Services, Dr Bob Brown, said:

    “As a Trust we recognise the importance of visiting patients in Hospitals and that it can be a great support, particularly for older people.

    “We want to be able to facilitate safe, secure visiting in as controlled and risk managed a way as possible and for that reason, looking at the transmission rates and evaluating risk assessments from across all of our Hospitals, from Monday the 27th of September we will implement consistent visiting arrangements in all Trust facilities for one visitor per patient for one hour, once a day.

    “Some exceptions will be made in special circumstances, for example, given the clinical vulnerability of the patient group, particularly in the haematology setting, visiting in the North West Cancer Centre will continue to be restricted to assessment on an individual basis involving the patient, family and team.”

    It has also been announced that these conditions will also apply to both Covid and ICU wards, where in the interests of patient safety visitation will be by individual negotiation with Ward Managers on a case by case basis.

    More frequent visiting in exceptional circumstances, such as at the end of life will continue to be permitted, as will visiting for birthing partners to maternity services, each in an individually risk assessed way.

    Paediatric wards (children’s) in Altnagelvin and South West Acute Hospital will continue to permit a parent to be at the child’s bedside, again ensuring this is risk assessed and in a COVID-19 secure way.

    This position will be reviewed again on Friday 01st October 2021.

    The Western Trust is also encouraging members of the public to complete lateral flow tests before visiting any of its premises to provide confidence to both visitors and staff that visitors are not Covid positive and to help the Trust maintain Covid Safe environments for all.

    These visiting arrangements will remain under constant review and may change in response to any further increase in infection rates impacting on any particular department, e.g. an inability to retain a COVID-19 secure environment of care.

    The safety of patients and staff will always be to the forefront of any decision made.

    These steps have been taken due to the ongoing risk of community transmission of COVID-19 across the Western Trust geography and to ensure the safety of both patients and staff.

    Patients have been reminded only to attend A&E alone, where possible. Children and vulnerable adults can be accompanied by one person.

    If you are planning to visit one of our Hospitals or inpatient facilities please do not do so if you:

    • Are currently unwell with a high temperature or fever
    • Have had a first positive test for COVID-19 in the last 28 Days
    • You have been advised to self-isolate
    • Had any vaccine (including flu) in the last 7 days

    Anyone attending any Western Trust Facility is also reminded to wear a face covering (unless exempt for medical reasons) and adhere to social distancing and hand-hygiene rules.


    17/09/2021: Vaccination Programme Update

    • Vaccination pop-up clinics at colleges/universities as part of the regional Jabbathon campaign this week and next. These clinics are open to the general public (16+) – details are below:

    Vaccination Clinics
    * These are being advertised as first dose clinics. Second dose clinics will follow in 8 weeks.
    * There will be a limited quota of additional second dose vaccines available at each mobile clinic for people who received their first dose elsewhere, no need to book just take vaccine card and ID.

    • Northern Sector – Mobile vaccination clinics in House of Value Derry/Londonderry on 15/9 (200 vaccinated) and the Vale Centre Greysteel on 16/9.

    Southern Sector – Mobile vaccination clinic in An Creagan 30th Sept (5.00pm-9.00pm).

    • Big Jab Weekend second doses – weekend of 16/17 October at same venue as previous (former mass vaccination centres at Foyle Arena, Omagh Leisure Complex and Lakeland Forum).
    • Western Trust also formulating plans with DAERA which will see the Farm Families van travel to rural communities throughout October offering vaccinations – including rural Fermanagh and Tyrone areas. A full programme and timetable will be circulated when confirmed.
    • Vaccinations remain available through community pharmacies for first doses. A map of participating pharmacies is available here – http://www.healthandcareni.net/pharmacy_rota/Covid_Moderna_Vaccination_Pharmacies.html

    17/09/2021: Latest on Visiting Guidance for all Western Trust Facilities

    The Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) has announced that  ‘1-1-1’ visiting restrictions, (one visitor per patient for one hour, once a day), will now apply to all Western Trust facilities with the exception of Altnagelvin Hospital, which will continue to restrict visitors to once a week (in most circumstances).

    The daily restrictions will continue to apply to the majority of Western Trust sites, including Omagh Primary Care Complex, Waterside Hospital and South West Acute Hospital – that means one visitor per patient for one hour, once a day.

    Due to the continued pressures experienced in the North West, Altnagelvin will continue to operate more restrictive measures allowing one visitor per patient for one hour, once a week. This is a position we are monitoring closely and will hope to be in a position to amend should COVID-19 community transmission in the North West and pressures on teams in Altnagelvin reduce.

    In addition, given the clinical vulnerability of the patient group, particularly in the haematology setting, visiting in the North West Cancer Centre will continue to be restricted to assessment on an individual basis involving the patient, family and team.

    This position will be reviewed again on Thursday 23rd September 2021.

    More frequent visiting in exceptional circumstances, such as at the end of life will continue to be permitted, as will visiting for birthing partners to maternity services, each in a risk assessed way.

    Paediatric wards (children’s) in Altnagelvin and South West Acute Hospital will continue to permit a parent to be at the child’s bedside, ensuring this is risk assessed and in a COVID-19 secure way.

    This will remain under review and risk assessed accordingly and in response to any further increase in infection rates impacting on any particular department, e.g. an inability to retain a COVID-19 secure environment of care and the safety of patients and staff will always be to the forefront of any decision made.

    These steps have been taken due to the high risk of community transmission of COVID-19 across the Western Trust geography and to ensure the safety of both patients and staff.

    Patients have been reminded only to attend A&E alone, where possible. Children and vulnerable adults can be accompanied by one person.

    If you are planning to visit one of our Hospitals or facilities please do not do so if you:

    • Are currently unwell with a high temperature or fever
    •  Have had a first positive test for COVID-19 in the last 28 Days
    • You have been advised to self-isolate
    • Had any vaccine (including flu) in the last 7 days.

    Anyone attending any Western Trust Facility is also reminded to wear a face covering (unless exempt for medical reasons) and adhere to social distancing and hand-hygiene rules.


    03/09/2021: Update on COVID19, our Hospitals, COVID19 Vaccination Programme and Visiting (Updated 5pm)

    Please find below some updates and information concerning a number of key issues, which may help you to address any constituent queries which you may field in the coming weeks.

    These focus particularly on current status, changes to our services, and our plans moving forward.

    As always, if you have any specific queries then please do not hesitate to contact us directly.

    COVID19 Update

    While the level of COVID infection has shown a slight decrease regionally in the last 7 days, the West remains highest in the region and the southern sector at 931 per 100k pop, has now surpassed the level in the northern sector (834 per 100k).

    The Trust currently has (03.09.21) 100 COVID patients in SWAH and Altnagelvin, having admitted 73 patients in the past week, and our acute hospitals are facing unprecedented pressure, operating beyond capacity at 108% (Altnagelvin) and 111% (SWAH).

    The Western Trust area has the highest vaccine uptake for care home residents (93% both doses) and staff (90% both doses) – well done to all who participated in this programme. We continue to remain vigilant every day, given the community transmission rate in the West is highest in the region and the southern sector has now surpassed the northern area.

    Our Hospitals

    Emergency Department Pressures

    Our Emergency Departments at Altnagelvin and South West Acute Hospitals continue to operate under severe pressures.

    The Trust is now issuing regular public messages informing them of the following info, which we would ask Public Reps to share with the public:

    • You MUST come alone, where able to do so
    • One parent can accompany a child
    • One carer can accompany a vulnerable adult
    • You MUST wear a mask
    • You MUST adhere to COVID 19 guidance whilst in our hospitals
    • Please consider other avenues of treatment, including local GP practices, Out of Hours GP services, and local Pharmacies where appropriate and safe to do so.

    ICU / CCU Pressures

    Over the past month our Intensive Care Units have been operating at full or close to full capacity most weeks.  This is extremely unusual and represents significant challenge.

    We are currently revising our ICU surge plans to increase capacity prior to the winter period. Currently Critical care at Altnagelvin Hospital is in surge escalation with over funded bed capacity in both units.

    Operations / Procedures update

     

    The Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust), alongside all Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland, is facing unprecedented pressures due to the rate of infection of COVID-19 and the subsequent high numbers of COVID-19 positive patients in our Hospitals.

    This is putting extreme pressure on the hospital system, including our workforce and is causing us great concern. This is not just a Western Trust issue, but a challenge facing the region as a whole, and we must also do our bit to support the regional surge plan.

    We have therefore taken the very regrettable, but necessary decision to postpone a range of inpatient and daycase surgeries up until Friday September 10th, subject to review.

    At present this involves a total of 28 Inpatient and 84 daycase surgeries that have been postponed between 2-10 September.

    Only emergency and trauma surgery will take place over the next seven days in order to safeguard the capacity needed within our hospital to continue the fight against COVID-19.

    Staff will be redeployed to areas where they are needed the most and they will continue to be supported throughout.

    The Western Trust is currently in the process of contacting all affected patients directly.

    The Trust is currently reviewing its planned outpatient services over the coming two (2) week period, and will be in a position early next week to make decisions and communicate to patients on deferred assessments.

    Vaccination Update

    As at end of Wednesday 01.09.21 the Western Health and Social Care Trust Vaccination Teams had administered a total of 242,494 doses of Covid-19 vaccine across the Western Trust area.

    Winding down of Mass Vaccination Centre operations

    We are rapidly moving towards the end of the Mass Vaccination Centre stage of our vaccine roll-out. Soon, we will be closing the doors on our centres at Foyle Arena, Omagh Leisure Complex and the Lakeland Forum.

    At present these facilities are only being utilised to finish administering second dose appointments and second dose walk-ins. Estimates based on the numbers attending show that this phase of operations is currently planned to be complete by 11th September.

    We are currently finalising our Mass Vaccination Centre closure plans, and will make sure these are communicated to you ahead of time, as we will wish to mark in an appropriate way contribution they have made to the vaccination effort.

    Currently 16/17 year olds can continue to receive their vaccination up until 11th September, and we will also be running some dedicated clinics for pregnant women in the coming weeks at the 3 MVCs.

    The general public seeking to receive a first dose vaccine can already do so through their participating local community pharmacy (map of pharmacies available here).

    Pregnant Women Vaccine Clinics

    The Trust continues to extensively target pregnant women to promote awareness of and encourage uptake of the Covid-19 vaccine amongst this group. We have seen substantial numbers of pregnant women attend our walk-in pop-up clinics over recent weeks, and this shows us that there is certainly a desire for vaccination amongst this group.

    Our Mass Vaccination Centres will be open to walk-in first dose Pfizer vaccines only for Pregnant Women on the following dates:

    • Foyle Arena – Saturday 4th and Sunday 5th September (9am to 4pm)
    • Lakeland Forum – Monday 6th and Tuesday 7th September (9am to 4pm)
    • Omagh Leisure Centre – Wednesday 8th and Thursday 9th September (9am to 4pm)

     *Please note that second doses will be administered at an alternative venue, as the Mass Vaccination Centres will be closed. Details of the second dose clinics will be communicated directly to vaccine recipients.

    Information on these clinics will be distributed through our Western Trust social media channels over the coming days, and we would be grateful if you could share through your own channels.

    Changes to Booking Line opening times

    In correlation to the winding down of Mass Vaccination Centre activities, we will also be reducing the hours of our booking line with immediate effect.

    The Western Trusts COVID vaccine booking line opening hours are changing as outlined below:

    • The COVID vaccine booking line will continue to be open Monday to Thursday 9am to 5pm and Friday 9am to 4:30pm
    • The booking line will be closed at the weekend. However, if there are any urgent queries the Foyle Arena duty phone can be called on 07425634110 on Saturdays and Sundays between 9am to 4pm
    • Alternatively those who wish to cancel an appointment can do so by emailing:  vaccine@westerntrust.hscni.net
    • For those who have missed a second dose appointment, the Trust would advise there is no need to call. In this instance the Trust would advise individuals to feel free to walk in to any of the three MVCs during opening hours, whilst they remain open. Days and times of operation can be found here.

     Second Dose Walk-In Clinics

    There have been a number of enquiries as to whether members of the public who received a first dose vaccine elsewhere can attend one of our second dose mobile clinics.

    The Trust would again state that these clinics are to accommodate those individuals who received their first dose at the corresponding first dose clinic, and slots are allocated accordingly.

    There is therefore little capacity to administer any further vaccines to those who have not attended the corresponding first dose clinic at that venue.

    It is for this reason that the Trust have not widely publicised these local second dose clinics, as we do not have the capacity to operate them as an alternative to the Mass Vaccination Centres.

    The Trust would therefore reiterate its message that it would encourage all members of the public to return to the same location as their first dose clinic in order to receive their second dose at their allocated time.

    For latest Visiting Guidelines visit our COVID19 Visiting Guidance page.

    To find out about more about our vaccination programme, you can visit the Western Trust: Vaccination Info page.

    Visiting Update

    Having reviewed current risk assessments, the Trust has decided not to reduce visiting at SWAH and Omagh hospitals at present and to continue with currently advertised visiting restrictions only.

    Despite the high COVID transmission risks, the clinical environment of 100% single room accommodation in both southern sector hospitals is a key factor.

    While the Trust has concerns about the additional demands that daily visiting to each patient places on ward teams and front of house support services to oversee, in addition to high bed occupancy and additional pressures from staff unavailability, we will maintain this position for a further 7 days.

    Altnagelvin and Waterside will continue to work the 1:1:1 process and in the next week, starting with Waterside Hospital, they are working on a plan to begin to reintroduce daily visiting cognisant of the balance of risk versus benefits for particularly older people receiving a visitor. We will update on this position next Thursday (09.09.21).

    The Trust has (five) 5 statutory residential homes for older people, and we are continuing current visiting arrangements in line with regional guidelines, each subject to close liaison with families and local risk assessment.

    Given the current transmission rate in the West the Trust would continue to appeal for help from Public Representatives in communicating the following in relation to visiting:

    1. Only visit a hospital or a care home if you are feeling well and we ask the public to avail of lateral flow test packs from NI Direct to give greater confidence
    2. Wear appropriate PPE when advised by the person in charge of the facility
    3. Maintain frequent hand washing and effective social distancing.
    4. Help us, our patients and residents as well as yourself by having your 2 dose vaccine

    Patients will also need to leave hospital as soon as they are medically fit to leave. This may mean that patients/families accepting a placement where it is available and it might also mean families and carers having to provide temporary support for their relatives.


    02/09/2021: Update to Western Trust’s COVID Vaccine Booking Line

    The Western Trust’s COVID vaccine booking line opening hours are changing as outlined below:

    • The COVID vaccine booking line will continue to be open Monday to Thursday 9.00am to 5.00pm and Friday 9.00am to 4.30pm
    • The booking line will be closed at weekends. However, if there are any urgent queries the Foyle Arena duty phone can be called on 074 2563 4110 on Saturdays and Sundays between 9.00am and 4.00pm.
    • Alternatively those who wish to cancel an appointment can do so by emailing:  vaccine@westerntrust.hscni.net
    • For those who have missed a second dose appointment, the Trust would advise there is no need to call. In this instance the Trust would advise individuals to feel free to walk in to any of the three MVCs at Foyle Arena, Omagh Leisure Complex and the Lakeland Forum during opening hours, whilst they remain open. Days and times of operation can be found here.

    For full details on the Western Trust’s COVID Vaccination Programme, including centre opening hours and information on upcoming walk-in pop-up clinics can be found at the following link: http://bit.ly/WTCOVID19Vaccination


    01/09/2021: Statement regarding Emergency Department Pressures at South West Acute Hospital

    01 September 2021

    The Western Trust can confirm that regrettably there are patients waiting in the Emergency Department for extended periods of time. This situation is outside of the standards for admission that the Trust works diligently to achieve.

    There have been patients waiting within the Emergency Department in South West Acute Hospital who we have been unable to admit to a ward within the time standards set by the Department of Health. During this time patients have their care delivered in the safest place possible by trained staff.

    Given the extreme pressures and high acuity of patients currently being cared for on the inpatient wards and the continued extreme demands on the Emergency Department  unfortunately patients have had to remain in the ED for extended period of times.

    Due to the high clinical needs of the current inpatients within the South West Acute Hospital and the continued demands on ED services we would respectfully request that the public would only attend the Emergency Department if they have a medical or mental health emergency. There are alternative suitable healthcare options available such as the Community Pharmacy or GP Out of Hours. Through utilisation of these services we hope that the pressures within the ED and in the patient wards will ease and result in shorter waiting times for patients.

    The Trust acknowledges the continuing support from the public and communities we serve.

  • August 2021

    16/08/2021: Chief Executive Supports Vaccination Staff

    Our Chief Executive, Neil Guckian has praised the efforts of the Western Trust Vaccination Team in light of the disruption caused by protestors at the Foyle Arena on Saturday, August 14th.

    “The Western Trust was running a special Pop-Up Vaccination Clinic for pregnant women at the Foyle Arena when a number of individuals entered the vaccination centre via an exit door and acted in an inappropriate and intimidating manner towards staff, volunteers and those women attending the clinic.

    “They were safely ejected from the premises, however I want to extend my sincere thanks to all of our staff and volunteers at the Foyle Arena who were present on Saturday for the way they dealt with this difficult and challenging incident.

    “As a Trust we will not tolerate abusive or inappropriate behaviour towards our staff and volunteers delivering health and care services, and we will would encourage anyone with any information to support the ongoing PSNI investigation into the incident, by contacting them on the non-emergency number 101, quoting reference number 1021 of 14/8/21.​

    “To members of the General Public, including Pregnant Women, we would repeat the public health message that everyone eligible should take up the offer of a vaccination and not to be put off by the actions of others.

    “It’s important to stop the spread of COVID-19 and therefore we advise everyone in our society, including pregnant women and those who have delivered within the last 6 weeks to come and get vaccinated.”


    06/08/2021: Western Trust COVID19 and Visiting Update

    The Western Trust is currently providing treatment and care for a total of 53 Covid-19 positive patients.  41 patients are being cared for in Altnagelvin Hospital and 12 patients are receiving care at the South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen.

    Due to the continued pressures experienced at our hospitals, the Western Trust’s most current visiting restrictions, ‘1-1-1’ (one visitor per patient for one hour, once a week), will remain in place at Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals, with current regional guidelines applying to other Western Trust sites. The situation will be reviewed again on Thursday 12 August 2021.

    More frequent visiting in exceptional circumstances, such as at the end of life will continue to be permitted, as will visiting for birthing partners to maternity services, each in a risk assessed way.

    Visiting arrangements to all other Western Trust facilities, including South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen and Omagh Hospital, will also continue on the basis of one visitor, for one hour, once per day.

    Paediatric wards (children’s) in Altnagelvin and South West Acute Hospital will continue to permit a parent to be at the child’s bedside, ensuring this is risk assessed and in a COVID-19 secure way.

    This will remain under review and risk assessed accordingly and in response to any further increase in infection rates impacting on any particular department, e.g. an inability to retain a COVID-19 secure environment of care and the safety of patients and staff will always be to the forefront of any decision made.

    The continued major focus on the vaccination programme remains integral in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic and everyone who can is encouraged to get their vaccine as soon as possible, including accessing our mobile pop up clinics in various parts of the community, and which are proving to be successful.

    For latest Visiting Guidelines visit our COVID19 Visiting Guidance page.

    The Trust have provided a range of ways to facilitate anyone to access the vaccine.

    To find out about how you can get your vaccine at any of the Mass Vaccination Centres or Mobile walk-in clinics, you can visit the Western Trust: Vaccination Info page.

    If you are planning to attend one of our Hospitals, facilities or one of our three Mass Vaccination Centres, located at Foyle Arena Derry/Londonderry, Omagh Leisure Centre and the Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen, please do not do so if you:

    • Are currently unwell with a high temperature or fever
    • Have had a first positive test for COVID-19 in the last 28 Days
    • You have been advised to self-isolate
    • Had any vaccine (including flu) in the last 7 days.

    Anyone attending any Western Trust Facility or to the Mass Vaccination Centres, or mobile walk in clinics, is reminded to wear a face covering (unless exempt for medical reasons) and adhere to social distancing and hand-hygiene rules.


    06/08/2021: Western Trust make first doses available for 16 and 17 year olds

    We will begin administering Pfizer jabs for 16 and 17 year olds at each of its three Mass Vaccination Centres and Mobile Clinics from Friday 6th August.

    All Centres have high numbers of people receiving 2nd doses booked in the coming weeks, so although 16/17 year olds can “walk in” for their vaccine, Western Trust is asking all within this cohort to book their appointment on-line to ensure that they avoid a long wait, over even being turned away and asked to come back another day.

    The Trust’s Vaccination Centres have been closed for all other first doses, but they are facilitating first doses for these specific age groups.

    Individuals aged between 16 and 17 years old who wish to make an appointment can do so by visiting the online booking portal https://covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated/; or by calling the regional booking line on 0300 200 7813 from Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.30pm.

    Orla Murphy 17 year old at Lakeland Forum

    The announcement came after the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) recommended that Covid-19 vaccine first doses be provided to all 16 and 17 year olds this week.

    From Friday 6th July, all regional vaccination centres across Northern Ireland, including each of the three Western Trust-run centres, located at Foyle Arena, Derry/Londonderry, Omagh Leisure Centre and the Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen, will be providing walk-in Pfizer first jabs for 16 and 17 year olds.

    The Western Trust will also provide Pfizer first doses to 16 and 17 year olds at its Mobile Walk-in Clinics being held across the Western Trust Geography from Friday. These include:

    DATE VENUE TIME
    Thursday 12th August Derg Valley Healthy Living Centre, Castlederg 4.00pm-8.00pm
    Tuesday 17th August St Mary’s, Derrylin 4.00pm-8.00pm
    Tuesday 24th August Diamond Centre, Claudy 4.00pm-8.00pm
    Thursday 26th August Strathroy Community Centre, Omagh 4.00pm-8.00pm
    Wednesday 1st September Bogside / Brandywell / Fountain Urban Valley Area 4.00pm-8.00pm
    Friday 3rd September Dromore Sports Complex 4.00pm-8.00pm

     

    This list is being updated regularly, so to find out more about where and when our mobile vaccination clinics are being held, or to view the

    available slots at our Vaccination Centres, you can visit the Western Trust Vaccination Info page: bit.ly/WTCOVID19Vaccination

    Director of Performance & Service Improvement and Vaccine Programme Lead, Teresa Molloy, said:

    “As a Trust we welcome the latest advice from JCVI and have worked to make sure that our Vaccination Teams are able to facilitate this new cohort from Friday.

    “We are following the guidance set out by the Department of Health and advice from JCVI in relation to childhood immunisations. JCVI has consistently held that the main focus of its decision should be the benefit to children and young people themselves, weighed against any potential harms from vaccination to children and young people.

    “JCVI are an independent, expert Committee who have thoroughly assessed a wide range of evidence. It is important that we continue to follow their advice and the Western Trust is happy to be able to facilitate this latest phase in the mass vaccination programme.”

    Please note that mobile clinics will only deliver first doses of the COVID-19 vaccine at this time.Lauren Rankin 16 year old and her Mum at Foyle Arena

    If you are planning to attend one of our Mass Vaccination Centres, or Mobile Clinics, please do not do so if you:

    • Are currently unwell with a high temperature or fever
    • Have had a first positive test for COVID-19 in the last 28 Days
    • You have been advised to self-isolate
    • Had any vaccine (including flu) in the last 7 days.

    Anyone attending a Western Trust Clinic is reminded to wear a face covering (unless exempt for medical reasons), adhere to social distancing rules and bring along their Health and Care Number (HCN) and ID if possible, along with the vaccination card if it is your second dose.


    06/08/2021: Latest Walk In Clinics for First Dose Pfizer Vaccination

    Please see the below table for details of our upcoming Walk In Clinics.

    Please note there will be no walk-in facility to receive second doses at our evening mobile Walk In clinics.

    Date Location Time
    Thursday 12th August Derg Valley Healthy Living Centre, Castlederg 4.00pm-8.00pm
    Tuesday 17th August St Mary’s, Derrylin 4.00pm-8.00pm
    Tuesday 24th August Diamond Centre, Claudy 4.00pm-8.00pm
    Thursday 26th August Strathroy Community Centre, Omagh 4.00pm-8.00pm
    Wednesday 1st September Bogside Brandywell Fountain Urban Valley Area 4.00pm-8.00pm
    Friday 3rd September Dromore Sports Complex 4.00pm-8.00pm

     


    04/08/2021: First doses to be made available for 16 and 17 year olds

    Department of Health

    The Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) has recommended that Covid-19 vaccine first doses be provided to all 16 and 17 year olds.

    This recommendation will be implemented in Northern Ireland.

    From this Friday, NI’s regional vaccination centres will be providing walk-in Pfizer first jabs for 16 and 17 year olds.

    For those in this age group who prefer to book, an online booking platform will be available in the coming days.

    The pop-up walk-in vaccination clinics being held across NI will also provide Pfizer first doses to 16 and 17 year olds from Friday.

    ID and proof of date of birth will be required when attending a regional vaccination centre or walk-in vaccination clinic for the jabs.

    Health Minister Robin Swann stated:

    “I welcome the latest advice from JCVI and have asked my officials to ensure it is fully implemented in Northern Ireland as quickly as possible.

    “When formulating advice in relation to childhood immunisations, JCVI has consistently held that the main focus of its decision should be the benefit to children and young people themselves, weighed against any potential harms from vaccination to children and young people.

    “JCVI are an independent, expert Committee who have thoroughly assessed a wide range of evidence. It is important that we continue to follow their advice.”

    The regional vaccination centres are:

    • SSE Arena, 2 Queens Quay, Belfast BT3 9QQ
    • Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast BT12 6BA
    • Seven Towers Leisure Centre, Trostan Avenue, Ballymena BT43 7BL
    • South Lake Leisure Centre, 1 Lake Road, Craigavon BT64 1AS
    • The Foyle Arena, 2 Limavady Road, Londonderry BT47 6JY
    • Omagh Leisure Centre, Old Mountfield Road, Omagh BT79 7EG
    • Lakeland Forum, Broadmeadow, Enniskillen BT74 7EF

    Details of the latest walk-in clinics are listed here:

    http://www.health-ni.gov.uk/news/how-get-your-jab-3

  • July 2021

    30/07/2021 – Update on Visiting Guidance

    In light of continued pressures with the significant increase in Covid-19 transmission in the North West community area, and the resulting sharp rise in admissions of Covid-19 patients in our hospitals, the Western Trust’s most recent “1-1-1” visiting restrictions will thus continue to remain in place at Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals for another seven day period, until at least Friday 6 August 2021, with amended guidelines applying to other Western Trust sites.

    The visiting arrangements at both Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals will continue on the basis of one (1) visitor, for a maximum time of one (1) hour, once (1) in the week permitted for the next seven days.

    The situation will be reviewed again on Thursday 5 August 2021.

    More frequent visiting in exceptional circumstances, such as at the end of life will continue to be permitted, as will visiting for birthing partners to maternity services, each in a risk assessed way.

    Visiting arrangements to all other Western Trust facilities, including South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen and Omagh Hospital, will also continue on the basis of one visitor, for one hour, once per day. This will remain under review and risk assessed accordingly owing to any further increase in admitted infection rates to any particular department, e.g. an inability to retain a COVID-19 secure environment of care. Paediatric wards (children’s) in Altnagelvin and South West Acute Hospital will continue to permit a parent to be at the child’s bedside, ensuring this is risk assessed and in a COVID-19 secure way.

    Full details of this can be found in the statement from Dr Bob Brown, Executive Director of Nursing, Primary Care and Older People’s Services on the Public Representative’s Online Hub and will also continue to be communicated, together with any updates as they arise, to the public on the Western Trust website and digital media channels.


    29/07/2021: Update on Vaccine Certification Service and COVIDCert NI App

    Department of Health:

    Work is ongoing to resolve the issues with the Northern Ireland COVID Certification Service and COVIDCert NI; and a further announcement will be made later today.

    The service will be returned in a phased and managed way and will be strictly limited to specific dates of travel, at any particular time, while we ensure that the service is working as expected.

    Applications for vaccine certificates, up to and including the 31 July have been, or are in the process of being completed.

    Further information for those travelling on 1 August 2021 will be announced later today and published on nidirect website at: www.nidirect.gov.uk/services/coronavirus-covid-19-covid-certificate-ni-residents


    29/07/2021: Community Pharmacies providing Moderna vaccine

    Dear Public Representative

    please see below a link to the interactive map which details the community pharmacies providing Moderna vaccine. As the number of pharmacies are increased on a weekly basis, the map will be updated accordingly.

    Click Here: Pharmacy Covid Moderna Vaccinations (healthandcareni.net)


    29/07/2021: UPDATE from Western Trust – Public Representative’s E-Brief

    Please find below the latest Public Representative’s E-Brief update (PDF) on a range of issues from the Western Trust Corporate Management Team.

    Click Here for Full E-Brief


    28/07/2021: Last call for vaccination centre first doses

    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

    Northern Ireland’s seven regional vaccination centres will close for first dose COVID-19 vaccines this weekend.

    Issuing a call out to anyone who is unvaccinated, the Health Minister Robin Swann, said:

    “Our vaccination centres have done a fantastic job in rolling-out the vaccination programme and will continue to administer second doses throughout August. However people will not be able to get a first dose jab at a vaccination centre after Saturday 31 July.

    “If you haven’t already received your vaccine then I would urge you to come forward ahead of Saturday. Getting your jab will never be easier or more accessible than it is right now. You do not need an appointment. You can simply turn up and receive the vaccine. This applies to all adults and anyone who will turn 18 before 31 October.”

    The Department of Health announced earlier this month that the regional vaccination centres will stand down later in the summer. This will enable redeployed staff to return back to the health service and will mean the SSE Arena and the leisure centres that have facilitated the vaccination programme will be able to resume their normal services.

    The Health Minister added:

    “Our health service is now experiencing the outworking of the latest surge in COVID-19 cases with a marked increase in hospital admissions and an increase in demand for critical care. Placing this level of demand on our health service is not sustainable. It’s vital that people protect themselves by getting vaccinated as soon as possible.”

    While the vaccination programme in regional centres begins to scale back, community pharmacies will expand its programme with the addition of the Moderna vaccine. The new service will initially see 16 pharmacies offer Moderna with more pharmacies being added to the service on a rolling basis over the coming weeks. Details of the community pharmacies offering the Moderna vaccine are available on the Health and Care NI website.

    Mobile vaccination teams will continue to visit towns and venues across Northern Ireland in addition to the increased offering by community pharmacies.

    Work is ongoing by paediatricians across all Trusts to identify children and young aged 12 years and over with specific underlying health conditions who will now be offered vaccination following the latest advice from JCVI.  Details of where and when vaccinations will be issued to the household of each of the eligible children.

    Special arrangements will also be put in place for the small number of 12-15 year olds in receipt of a letter from a GP or Trust who live with someone who is immunosuppressed.


    26/07/2021: First doses ends at Western Trust Mass Vaccination Centres from 31 July 2021

    In line with Minister Swann’s recent announcement, the Western Trust can confirm that the programme of first doses of the Pfizer Vaccine at the Trust’s three Mass Vaccination Centres will end on  31st July.

    The Trust will continue with a programme of mobile clinics during August and second doses will continue to be administered at the Mass Vaccination Centres via walk in and appointment until early September.

    Winding down the Mass Vaccination Centres will allow staff to return to other parts of the health service and it is hoped that the 31 July deadline will motivate those who have yet still to receive their first jab to visit one of the centres.

    The Trust would remind those people who are due to receive their second dose at a vaccination centre after this date to either attend their scheduled appointments or avail of the walk in facility at one of the mass vaccination centres.

    The decision to stand down the centres, located at Foyle Arena L/Derry, Omagh Leisure Centre and the Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen was taken in line with the timeframe set out by Health Minister Robin Swann.

    Mr Swann said the current scale of the vaccination programme: “cannot continue indefinitely” and urged people to come forward sooner, rather than later.

    He said: “The vaccination programme has been a huge logistical operation. We set it up with the aim of offering all adults their first jab by July and this has been achieved.

    “The right time to get your vaccine is right now. A new surge in Covid cases is under way and getting your jab will protect you and others. It will also help our health service cope, by pushing down infection numbers and hospital admissions.

    Commenting on the decision to stop offering first jabs in mass vaccination centres by the start of August, Western Trust Vaccine Programme Operational Lead, Garrett Martin, said: “Getting your first jab has never be easier or more accessible than it is right now.

    “At each of our three Mass Vaccination Centres we are offering walk-in jabs without the need for appointment and across the Western Trust area our mobile vaccination teams are visiting local towns to provide walk-in clinics.”

    This roll out is part of ongoing efforts by the Western Trust to encourage people aged over 18 years old to get vaccinated by making the vaccination process more accessible and convenient.

    Commenting further, he said: “I would also like to take this opportunity to remind the public that they can also receive their second dose by walking into one of our mass vaccination centres, as long as they have received their first dose more than six weeks ago.

    “Everyone who takes up both doses of the vaccination is helping keep their family, friends and the wider community safe from the worst effects of Covid and helping us all to move towards getting life back to some degree of normality. We urge everyone who has yet to receive their invitation to take up the offer.

    “Our centres are open to everyone aged over 18 so we would also encourage everyone to keep an eye on our news and social media channels for updates and to come along to their nearest clinic when the opportunity arises.”

    The Trust would also remind everyone over 18 that if you don’t want to risk waiting at a walk in session you can make a scheduled appointment at one of our Mass Vaccination Centres directly by visiting the online booking portal https://covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated/; or by calling the regional booking line on 0300 200 7813 from Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.30pm.”

    If you are planning to attend one of our Mass Vaccination Centres, please do not do so if you:

    • Are currently unwell with a high temperature or fever
    • Have had a first positive test for COVID-19 in the last 28 Days
    • You have been advised to self-isolate
    • Had any vaccine (including flu) in the last 7 days.

    Anyone attending a walk in clinic at one of the Western Trust Mass Vaccination Centres is reminded to wear a face covering (unless exempt for medical reasons), adhere to social distancing rules and bring along their Health and Care Number (HCN) and ID if possible.

    If attending a pre-booked appointment, we would also request bringing the booking reference number.


    23/07/2021 – Vaccine Certification System under extreme pressure

    From Department of Health

    The interim vaccine certification system is currently under extreme pressure and users are asked to be patient.

    We are aware that some users are experiencing difficulties and we are working at pace to find a resolution to these issues.

    We are reacting to changing entry requirements being imposed by countries which may impact travellers.  These changes are outside our control but we are committed to finding solutions that are workable for all.

    The system is currently transitioning to the planned CCS (COVID Certification Service) and the new App will launch shortly.  Some travellers may still require assistance in the immediate term and we will continue working through those requests. Those who are not travelling within the next few days should please avoid blocking the helpline, for those with more pressing needs. We would also remind the public that staff working on the helpline are doing their best to help them. While frustration at delays is understandable, appropriate courtesy is more likely to be productive.

    The use of computer supported photo identification has helped to speed up the vaccine certification process but this process relies on each photograph meeting a specific set of criteria.  Please ensure you are familiar with that criteria or your photograph/application may be rejected. We are in the process of updating the user screens to give more detailed information to help advise you on the process.

    Where possible, the public are asked to use the digital platform and not the telephone helpline.  The telephone helpline is available for those who do not have access to the digital platform.  Call handlers can only deal with certification issues.  They cannot provide advice on country entry requirements or any other queries not relating to vaccine certification.


    23/07/2021 – Update on Visiting Guidance to Western Trust facilities

    Following a pause to visiting arrangements to Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals on Friday 9 July 2021 and the subsequent easing of the restrictions on Friday 16 July, the Western Trust will continue to maintain the specific restrictions below for a further seven day period, to be reviewed on Friday 30 July 2021 (and earlier should a situational change require this).

    The visiting arrangements in both Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals, will thus continue to be on the basis of one (1) visitor, for a maximum time of one (1) hour, once (1) in the week permitted for the next seven days. The situation will be reviewed again on Friday 30 July. More frequent visiting in exceptional circumstances, such as at the end of life will continue to be permitted, as will visiting for birthing partners to maternity services, each in a risk assessed way.

    Visiting to other facilities such as Spruce House (on the Altnagelvin site), Grangewood and Lakeview on the Gransha site, may also happen more frequently (to a maximum of one visitor, for one hour, once per day) and specific arrangements should be made by speaking with the officer in charge of each facility.

    Visiting arrangements to all other Western Trust facilities, including South West Acute hospital in Enniskillen and Omagh Hospitals, will continue on the basis of a maximum one visitor, for one hour, once per day. This will remain under review and risk assessed accordingly, such as in the event of a situational change to any department e.g. an inability to retain a COVID-19 secure environment of care.

    Paediatric wards (children’s) in Altnagelvin and South West Acute Hospital will continue to permit a parent to be at the child’s bedside, ensuring this is risk assessed and in a COVID-19 secure way.

    The initial decision to impose visiting restrictions in Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals was necessary following a significant increase in COVID-19 transmission in the North West community area, resulting in a sharp rise in admissions of Covid-19 patients.

    Presently the Western Trust has a total of 48 COVID-19 positive patients, with thirty-four (34) in Altnagelvin and fourteen (14) in South West Acute Hospital.

    With the significant rise in Community transmission of COVID-19, the situation will continue to be monitored and reviewed as the Trust continues to deal with a very challenging situation and the safety of patients and staff will always be to the forefront of any decision made. The continued major focus on the vaccination programme remains integral in the battle against the COVID-19 pandemic and everyone who can is encouraged to get their vaccine as soon as possible, including accessing our pop-up clinics in various parts of the community, and which are proving successful.

    For latest Visiting Guidelines visit our COVID19 Visiting Guidance page.

    The Trust have provided a range of ways to facilitate anyone to access the vaccine.

    To find out about how you can get your vaccine at any of the Mass Vaccination Centres or Mobile walk-in clinics, you can visit the our Vaccination Info page.

    If you are planning to attend one of our Hospitals, facilities or the Mass Vaccination Centres, please do not do so if you:

    • Are currently unwell with a high temperature or fever
    • Have had a first positive test for COVID-19 in the last 28 Days
    • You have been advised to self-isolate
    • Had any vaccine (including flu) in the last 7 days.

    Anyone attending any Western Trust Facility or to the Mass Vaccination Centres, or mobile walk in clinics, is reminded to wear a face covering (unless exempt for medical reasons) and adhere to social distancing and hand-hygiene rules.


    22/07/2021: Western Trust to provide children’s “Hospice at Home” service directly from October

    The Western Trust is fully committed to the ongoing provision of specialist palliative and end of life care for children at home across the Trust’s geography.

    Since 2007 this service have been delivered on behalf of the Western Trust through a contractual arrangement with Northern Ireland Hospice via the Hospice at Home initiative.

    However the Trust can confirm that as per mutual agreement a decision was taken between the Western Trust and Northern Ireland Hospice to end this arrangement by 30 September 2021. This decision was taken to allow the Trust to deliver these services directly.

    Tom Cassidy, Director of Women & Children’s Services

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank Hospice Northern Ireland for the provision of the Hospice at Home service, which they have provided across the Western Trust for a number of years.

    The service has been a great source of strength and support to families within the Western Trust and it is the Trust’s intention to build on this work by utilising its existing financial allocations to allow it to provide and grow this service directly via delivery by Trust staff.

    By bringing the service fully within the delivery of the Trust, we estimate we will be able to more than double the number of overall hours of care we are currently able to provide under the present arrangement.

    From October we will be able to provide two (2) dedicated members of staff, which will allow the Trust to provide 300 hours of short break at home care per month, up from 140 hours per month under the current model.

    The trust has also committed to the continuation of funding support for a part time Senior Palliative Care Nurse in the southern sector, which is part of the current provision and will remain unchanged.

    Nursing staff currently employed by the Children’s Hospice, and partly funded by the WHSCT, will continue in post to provide the service for those children and families who require palliative care support and advice to ensure stability and the continuation of relationships.

    These new arrangements will allow the Western Trust provide short break services in a more flexible and tailored way, providing extra support to those families who use this valuable service.

    The Western Trust will contact directly those families who were in receipt of Hospice at Home care to explain how the transitional arrangements will work to answer any questions that they may have.


    22/07/2021 – Car Parking Changes – Altnagelvin Hospital Site

    The Trust is making some changes to car parking arrangements on its Altnagelvin Hospital site. The changes, which come into effect from Monday 2 August, will see a reconfiguration of spaces close to some of the main hospital entrances to improve accessibility for patients and visitors, whilst helping to ensure that all other spaces on the site are fully utilised.

    A number of car parking spaces close to the North Wing entrance of the hospital will become chargeable using ‘Pay and Display’, from 06:00 Monday 2nd August.  This change will help improve access for our patients and visitors alike.  The disabled parking spaces at our hospital entrances are not included in this change and will remain free of charge at this point

    Spaces have been protected elsewhere on the site for use by staff. 50 spaces have been allocated for staff on the ground floor the multi-storey carpark and 50 spaces for staff in the underground car park at the North West Cancer Centre. A  further 100 free spaces have been created at the Southern area of the hospital’s grounds.

    Car Park fees across the Altnagelvin site remains the same and people who are exempt from paying for car parking will receive their reimbursement in the usual manner.

    The areas referred to are highlighted in red in the image below.

    Altnagelvin Site Map


    21/07/2021: How to get your jab

    From Department of Health:

    Latest walk-in mobile vaccination clinics – no appointment necessary – for first dose jabs.

    Belfast HSC Trust

    • Whitla Hall, Queen’s University
      24 and 25 July,10pm to 6pm

    Western HSC Trust

    • The Milestone CentreCarrickmore
      22 July, 4pm to 8pm
    • Derg Valley Healthy Living, Castlederg
      27 July, 4pm to 8pm
    • Shantallow Community Residents Association, L/Derry
      29 July, 4pm to 8pm
    • The Sports Complex, Dromore
      30 July, 4pm to 8pm

    South Eastern HSC Trust

    • Dunleath car park, Ballydugan Road, Downpatrick
      21 July, 11am to 7pm
    • Ballymote Community Centre, Killough Road, Downpatrick 
      22 July, 11am to 7pm
    • West Winds Estate, Shackleton Walk, Newtownards
      23 July, 10am to 1pm
    • Glen Estate Community Centre, Newtownards
      23 July, 2pm to 6pm
    • Laganvalley Leisureplex, Lisburn
      24 and 25 July, 11am to 7pm
    • Portaferry Leisure Centre, 3 Cloughey Road
      28 July, 11am to 7pm
    • Donaghadee Community Centre
      29 July, 11am to 7pm
    • Londonderry Park, Newtownards
      31 July, 11am to 7pm
    • Ards Shopping Centre, Newtownards
      1 August, 11am to 7pm

    Southern HSC Trust

    • Armagh Marketplace Theatre
      21 July, 2pm to 7pm
    • Markethill Livestock Mart
      24 July, 9.30am to 3.30pm
    • Silverbridge Resource Centre
      24 July, 9.30am to 3.30pm
    • Kilkeel Leisure Centre
      25 July, 9.30am to 3.30pm
    • Quays Shopping Centre, Newry
      25 July, 1pm to 6pm

    Northern HSC Trust

    • Burnavon Arts Centre, Cookstown
      24 July, 10am to 6pm
    • St Patrick’s Parish Hall, Portrush
      24 July,11pm to 7pm; 25 July 11am to 5pm; 26 July, 9.30am to 4.30pm

    Walk-in first dose jabs – no appointment necessary – are now available at all the Trust vaccination centres.

    Or you can book an appointment online at a vaccination centre, at a time to suit you.

    For online booking page go to: https://covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated/

    The vaccination centres are located at:

    • SSE Arena, Belfast
    • Foyle Arena
    • Omagh Leisure Centre
    • Lakeland Forum, Fermanagh
    • South Lake Leisure Centre, Craigavon
    • Seven Towers Leisure Centre, Ballymena
    • Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast.

    Please note: the vaccination centres and mobile walk-in clinics are only offering Pfizer or Moderna vaccines for first doses.

    Participating pharmacies are offering Astra Zeneca first doses for people who are aged 40 or over

    Details of participating pharmacies and how to book are online at: covid-19.hscni.net/community-pharmacy-covid-19-vaccination-service

    Walk-in jabs are available at the vaccinations for second doses as well as first doses – providing the required interval has passed since your first jab. The required interval between first and second doses is six weeks for Pfizer and eight weeks for Astra Zeneca.


    21/07/2021: Western Trust Lookback Review into CT Angiogram Imaging

    Dr Catherine McDonnell, Medical Director

    The Western Trust takes all matters of patient safety and its Duty of Care seriously. As a result the Western Trust has today confirmed that it has undertaken a Lookback Review into CT Coronary Angiogram imaging.

    Concerns were raised through the Trust incident reporting system.  Initially an audit of a small sample of CT Angiogram images, which had been carried out by a Locum Consultant Cardiologist, was completed. The results of that audit prompted the Trust to undertake a full review of all CT Coronary Angiogram imaging which had been conducted by this doctor during their employment with the Trust.

    A total of 112* images, which affected 99 patients had been carried out by the locum Consultant Cardiologist concerned during the period January 2020 to February 2021. These have all been reassessed as part of the Trust’s Lookback Review into CT Coronary Angiogram Imaging.

    These images were taken at Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex. No other hospitals or healthcare facilities are involved.

    We have written to all 99 patients including those patients where no error was detected or further action recommended so they are aware of the review and reassured that their case has been re-evaluated.

    Letters have been sent by registered post and will arrive over the next few days.

    This is a difficult situation and may cause distress to patients and families involved. I would like to apologise sincerely on behalf of the Trust for upset caused.

    Most patients who receive a letter will not be require a change to their treatment nor be required to take further action.

    Where further action or further clinical assessment is required the Trust will ensure that appointments are offered promptly.  Additional clinics are being set up to achieve this.

    A helpline and dedicated email address has been established for anyone who receives a letter and has concerns.

    A Direct dial number 028 7161 0814 will be available to call from 9am – 5pm, Tuesday 20th July to Friday 23rd July for those patients in receipt of a letter.

    The Trust has also made available psychological support services for any patient who might be particularly anxious.

    Note: *Some patients’ scans required multiple individual images.


    20/07/2021: Statement – Sentencing of an ex-WHSCT employee at Seymour Gardens

    The Western Trust takes its responsibility to ensure the health and safety of all patients, residents and service users within its care extremely seriously.

    As a result the Trust roundly welcomed the news yesterday that the case concerned has come to a conclusion with the successful conviction of the offending individual.

    Commenting on the issue, Executive Director of Nursing, Primary Care and Older People’s Services with the Western Trust, Dr. Bob Brown said:

    “Our thoughts at present are primarily with the residents and families affected, who have demonstrated great courage during a distressing and difficult period for them all.”

    “I would again state that as a Trust we would like to acknowledge the pain and suffering endured by those affected by this situation and to apologise to those residents and family members involved.

    “I would also like to extend an invitation to meet, either myself or another other relevant senior Managers within the Trust, to any individual or family member who has been directly affected to discuss these issues and how the Trust has acted throughout the process in detail.”


    09/07/2021: Temporary Pause to Visiting at Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals from 12midnight on Friday 9 July 2021

    Due to the significant increase in Covid-19 transmission in our Communities and subsequently the sharp rise in admissions of Covid-19 patients to our hospitals in recent days, the Western Trust has had to make the decision to temporarily pause visiting to Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals.

    This pause on visiting arrangements will be implemented from 12midnight on Friday 9th July for a period of 1 week initially and this will be subject to daily monitoring and review.

    Western Trust Chief Executive, Neil Guckian, commented:

    “We have seen a significant recent spike in Covid-19 transmissions and this is particularly prevalent in the North West where it is currently the highest rate in the region, with the Derry and Strabane Council area having reached 372.1 per 100k today”

    “Additionally, in recent days, we have experienced a number of visitors to our Altnagelvin Hospital who have since confirmed through track and trace that they are Covid-19 positive. This is a serious concern and with the sharp rise in patient admissions to our hospital, the impact this has both in terms of staffing and bed capacity in the hospital and with the increase in Community transmissions, we have had to make the decision to temporarily pause visiting to our Altnagelvin and Waterside hospitals.”

    “This rise in transmission and admissions is also coming at a time when the Trust continues to deal with the additional pressures faced in our Emergency Departments. I understand that this may be very disappointing for the local community. However the safety of our patients and staff will always be our first priority.”

    Visiting to Altnagelvin and Waterside hospitals in exceptional circumstances, such as end of life care, will continue to be possible and in each instance will be subject to local risk assessment. Please contact the local ward manager where relevant.

    At this stage there will be no change to visiting arrangements in our Fermanagh and Omagh hospitals.

    Importance of the Vaccine Programme

    All of this continues to highlight the massive importance of our Vaccination Programme.

    “This week our Vaccination programme Team reached the milestone of delivering 200,000 Vaccine doses. This is a massive achievement and I thank everyone across our teams who have been, and continue to be, involved in this.”

    “We must continue to push forward with this and in order to further facilitate everyone to receive the vaccine we have now made our Mass Vaccination Centres all walk-in facilities in addition to booking your vaccine there. We are also now rolling out Mobile Vaccine Walk-In Clinics and I would urge everyone, and in particular those aged 18-29, to come forward now to get your vaccine.”

    Information on how to access getting the vaccine at any of our centres and also at the Mobile Vaccine Walk-In Clinics is available on our website and the link is below.

    Neil continued: “In light of this information I would ask the public to continue to be vigilant in getting on top of this and adhering to all the Covid-19 guidelines currently in place such as social distancing, wearing of face masks and hand sanitising. Thank you and please continue to work together to stay safe over the bank holiday weekend.”

    To find out about how you can get your vaccine at any of the Mass Vaccination Centres or Mobile walk-in clinics, you can visit the Western Trust Vaccination Info page: bit.ly/WTCOVID19Vaccination

    If you are planning to attend one of our Hospitals, facilities or the Mass Vaccination Centres, please do not do so if you:

    • Are currently unwell with a high temperature or fever
    • Have had a first positive test for COVID-19 in the last 28 Days
    • You have been advised to self-isolate
    • Had any vaccine (including flu) in the last 7 days.

    Anyone attending any Western Trust Facility or to the Mass Vaccination Centres, or mobile walk in clinics, is reminded to wear a face covering (unless exempt for medical reasons) and adhere to social distancing rules.


    09/07/2021: Public Representative E-Brief

    Click here to view the Public Representatives E-Brief for July 2021


    08/07/2021: Rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in Community and Hospital – Some Elective and Surgical Procedures postponed

    Rising numbers of Covid-19 cases in Community and Hospital – Some Elective and Surgical Procedures postponed

    The Western Trust has experienced rising numbers of Covid-19 positive results in the community and in hospital.  Hospital numbers have risen sharply in recent days – we now have 20 positive Covid-19 patients in Altnagelvin, in addition to 2 new Covid-19 patients in South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen (6 Covid-19 patients in total in SWAH). This number is a considerable rise compared with a small number of cases in our Hospitals last week. (Please note these numbers are fluid and can change daily).

    As a result the Trust has now implemented our initial surge plan and this will be kept under constant review.

    The impact of the rise in hospital and community cases, has meant that the Trust has postponed 12 elective procedures at Altnagelvin and has also resulted in a reduction in our surgical capacity with 15 patients having their procedures postponed on Thursday 8 and Friday 9 July. We apologise to the 27 patients in total who have been affected, all of whom have now been contacted by the Trust. We have also already moved to reschedule their appointment dates as soon as is possible to do so.

    Again, we would highlight the importance of vaccination, social distancing and public health advice given the high Covid-19 figures, particularly in the North West.

    Full details of our Vaccination Programme, including information on our Mass Vaccination Centres and planned Mobile Vaccine Clinics will be issued in the Public Representative’s E-Brief later. Full details of the Vaccine Programme for the public will be updated regularly on our Website and we would appreciate your support in promoting this to your constituents: https://westerntrust.hscni.net/western-trust-covid-19-information-updates/covid-19-vaccination-programme/


    05/07/2021: Mass Vaccination Centres now operating as both BOOKED APPOINTMENT and WALK IN CLINICS

    Our mass vaccination centres are now operating as both BOOKED APPOINTMENT and WALK IN CLINICS during opening hours, 9.00am to 4.00pm for over 18s .

    We have added two additional evening walk in clinics this week:

    Omagh Leisure Complex – Tuesday 6 July, 4.00pm to 8.00pm

    Millennium Forum – Thursday 8 July, 4.00pm to 8.00pm

    The walk in clinics will take place for the first dose of PFIZER only. Slots will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Please note there will be no walk-in facility for second doses.

    Please note – do not attend if you:

    • Are currently unwell with a high temperature or fever
    • Have had a first positive test for COVID-19 in the last 28 days
    • You have been advised to self-isolate
    • Had any other vaccine in the last 7 days.

    If you would still prefer to book an appointment time, book online at  https://vaccinations.covid-19.hscni.net/booking or call the regional booking line number: 0300 200 7813 from Monday to Friday, 8.30am to 5.30pm.

    Anyone attending a vaccine clinic, please wear a face covering (unless exempt for medical reasons) and adhere to social distancing rules. Bring your photographic ID with you. If possible, bring your Health and Care number (HCN).


    01/07/2021: Neil Guckian begins role as the Western Trust’s new Chief Executive

    Neil Guckian begins role as the Western Trust’s new Chief Executive

    Thursday 1 July marks the first day in post for our new Chief Executive, Mr Neil Guckian.  On behalf of our Board, our staff and the users of our services, we wish Neil all the best in this key role within our Trust.  The role of Chief Executive carries significant responsibility and pressure so let us all work with him in his leadership of a strong team of directors, managers and staff in ensuring that our communities in the Western Trust receive the very best health and social care it is possible to receive during these challenging times.

    Every good wish Neil.

    Sam Pollock,
    on behalf of Western Health and Social Care Trust.

    Neil Guckian

    Pictured: Mr NEIL GUCKIAN – who was appointed as the new Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) Chief Executive in May, has taken up his role, starting July 1st.

    Working previously as Director of Finance and Contracting with the Western Trust since he joined in August 2019, Mr Guckian has replaced former Chief Executive, Dr Anne Kilgallen, who steps down after four years in charge.

    Mr Guckian has amassed over 20 years’ senior executive experience within the Public Health Sector, having previously worked as Director of Finance & Estates in South-Eastern Trust for 10 years, Director of Finance for 11 years in the Northern Trust area and as Deputy Chief Executive of Causeway Trust.

    Commenting on his first day as Chief Executive, Mr Guckian said: “I am extremely honoured to take up my post of Chief Executive of the Western Health and Social Care Trust and I want to start by paying tribute to the work of previous CEOs Dr Anne Kilgallen and her predecessor Elaine Way for the solid foundations they have put in place.”

    “It is a privilege to be able to lead this organisation, which is filled with hugely dedicated, talented and driven individuals in our staff.

    “This is a unique time for our Trust and we can be certain that the months and years ahead will bring with them new challenges as we move out of the pandemic phase and into the new post Covid-19 world. To be best positioned to meet these challenges we, as a Trust, must be at the forefront of innovative and transformative care.

    “Regardless of what lies ahead, as Chief Executive you can be assured that my focus will remain firmly fixed on the health and wellbeing of our staff and on the improvement of the quality of care and outcomes for the people served by the Western Trust.”

  • June 2021

    28/06/2021: Walk in vaccination clinic for over 18 year olds at Foyle Arena – June 29th

    As part of the commitment of the Western Trust to maximise access to the COVID 19 vaccination, a walk in clinic will be available for adults over the age of 18 years on Tuesday 29 June 2021 between 5pm and 8pm.

    This clinic will take place in the Foyle Arena for FIRST DOSE of PFIZER only. Slots will be allocated on a first come, first served basis. Please note there will be no walk-in facility to receive second doses.

    Please do not attend if you:

    • Are currently unwell with a high temperature or fever
    • Have had a first positive test for COVID-19 in the last 28 Days
    • You have been advised to self-isolate
    • Had any vaccine (including flu) in the last 7 days.

    Those who would prefer an exact appointment time or are unable to attend at this time can book their vaccination by visiting the online booking portal https://covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated/; or by calling the regional booking line on 0300 200 7813 from Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.30pm.

    Anyone invited to attend one of the Mass Vaccination Centres is reminded to wear a face covering (unless exempt for medical reasons), adhere to social distancing rules and bring along their booking reference number, ID and, if possible their Health and Care Number (HCN).


    22/06/2021: Community Outreach Vaccine Clinic at Old Library Trust Healthy Living Centre in Creggan on 23 June 2021

    Vaccine uptake is an important means of securing protection against COVID-19 infection. Currently over 1.8 million doses have been administered in Northern Ireland since the Department of Health launched the vaccination campaign at the end of 2020, helping to save lives and protect a great many others from serious illness.

    As part of this programme and in order to enable further vaccine uptake, the Western Trust is working closely with the Public Health Agency, Community Pharmacy and our local community and voluntary sector partners to roll out a model of community outreach vaccine clinics. The purpose of these outreach clinics is to increase uptake of the vaccine within specific neighbourhoods by setting up a localised walk-in clinic within a community setting. This will help address potential barriers to vaccination such as mobility, accessibility and language.

    The first Community Outreach Clinic in the Western Trust area will take place in the Old Library Trust Healthy Living Centre in Creggan, Derry on 23 June 2021. This clinic will be aimed at increasing access to the vaccine for adults over 40 years. Adults aged 18-39 are encouraged to book an appointment at the local Mass Vaccination Centre. Arrangements will also be in place at the outreach clinic to facilitate access to an appointment at the Foyle Arena for this population group.


    17/06/2021: Enhanced testing in Omagh and Ballymoney

    The Public Health Agency has identified a number of probable cases of the Delta variant (VOC-21APR-02) in areas of Ballymoney and Omagh. These early results are suggestive of the variant but this has not been confirmed.

    As a precautionary measure we are asking asymptomatic people to get tested in selected, targeted neighbourhoods within these areas. This is in advance of confirmation of whether a variant is present and so we can identify asymptomatic COVID-19 cases early and reduce the risk of spread in the community.

    Testing is opening to everyone in these areas over the age of 5 years old.

    Households in the areas that this testing covers will be contacted directly by PHA by post from tomorrow [Friday].

    Dr Bríd Farrell, Assistant Director of Service Development, Safety and Quality at the PHA, said:

    “Testing in these areas is a precautionary measure to identify asymptomatic cases and help prevent and delay further spread of the virus.

    “We encourage all those eligible in the neighbourhoods identified by the agency to present for testing, preferably within 24-72 hours of receiving their letter.

    “We are particularly interested in people in the 18 to 40 age group coming forward for testing as we are seeing more cases of the Delta variant in this age group throughout Northern Ireland.

    “This is a reminder to everyone that we should take steps now to help reduce the spread of the variant, and must avoid becoming complacent. Everyone over the age of 18 who has not yet booked their vaccine should do so now – if you have had your first dose, make sure you attend for your second one. Two doses of the vaccine appears to have a high degree of effectiveness against the Delta variant, and getting it will not only help protect you, but also more vulnerable members of our community.

    “Also, continue to carry out all public health measures to help stop the spread of COVID-19. Continue with good hand and respiratory hygiene, keep your distance of two metres from others where possible, wear a face covering where necessary, and keep rooms well ventilated. Helping to stop the spread of the virus will save lives.”

    If anyone develops symptoms of COVID-19, which are a new, continuous cough, or a high temperature, or a change in your sense of taste or smell, please book a test as soon as possible and you and your household must self-isolate when waiting for your test appointment and test result.

    Testing unit locations

    A booking will be required by visiting: https://www.gov.uk/get-coronavirus-test

    Omagh

    Testing will be available at three locations in Omagh. The units are located at:

    • Lisanelly Avenue, Omagh, BT79 7BQ. This site is open from 8am–2pm daily.
    • Christ the King Chapel, 5 Strathroy Road, Omagh, BT79 7DW. This site will be open from 9am–3pm on Thursday 17 and Friday 18 June.
    • St. Enda’s GAA Club, 48 Gortin Road, Omagh, BT79 7HX. This site will be open from 9am–3pm on Saturday 19 and Sunday 20 June.

    Ballymoney

    • Two mobile testing units will be located at the Joey Dunlop Leisure Centre, 33 Garryduff Road, Ballymoney, BT53 7DB. Open daily 9am-3pm.

    14/06/2021: Statement from Trust Board Chair, Mr Sam Pollock, on retirement of Dr Anne Kilgallen

    At the regular briefing of MLAs by the Chief Executive of Western Health and Social Care Trust Dr Anne Kilgallen indicated that it would be her last time with the MLAs as she was retiring at the end of June this year.  Those present wished her well and thanked her for her support and help on many issues across the Western Trust.

    The previous day had been the monthly meeting of the Trust Board and the Chair, Sam Pollock, had acknowledged very strongly the immense contribution of Dr Kilgallen not only to this area but across the Region in the North of Ireland.  Sam said he considered it an immense privilege to have worked with Anne, she had built a very strong executive team around her, they follow her example and they respected her leadership.

    Sam said Anne was retiring after a long and successful career: she had undertaken a number of significant and difficult roles within the field of Health.  He added that over the recent 2 years; “I have seen up close her honesty, her integrity, her good judgement and her genuine and sincere commitment to people under her care, to staff and to this Trust and Board.”

    He emphasised that “retiring from a Health Trust following the last 18 months is a significant matter: the challenges and the pressures thrown at everyone by Covid has been horrendous and the pressure on Anne and her team has been huge.  Anne’s leadership during this time has been tremendous; our staff, our service users and patients and clients, and the general public owe Anne an enormous thank you and in so far as I can speak for the community here and now, I thank you, Anne.”

    I can also say with no hesitation, Anne is highly respected across the Region by her colleagues; by other Trusts, by the Department and a wide spectrum of community and voluntary organisations.

    On behalf of the Western Health and Social Care Trust and this Board, I thank you Dr Kilgallen for your exceptional support to us; I wish you well in your retirement.

    Thank you Anne and sincere good wishes.


    11/06/2021: Pathfinder for Fermanagh and West Tyrone – Update

    The full presentation given to MLAs and MPs at the Briefing on Friday 11 June 2021 can be accessed below on the PDF.

    This is an updated version of the Pathfinder Presentation given to the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council elected Representatives on Friday 14 May 2021.

    Click here for the Pathfinder Presentation


    11/06/2021: Publication of FPS General Medical Services for Northern Ireland, Annual Statistics 2020/21

    The Health and Social Care’s Business Services Organisation (BSO) has today published its General Medical Services for Northern Ireland, Annual Statistics 2020/21. The report contains high level summary information on activity and payments in relation to General Practitioners (GPs), GP Practices and Registered Patients. Information is provided at NI level with further breakdowns presented at Local Commissioning Group (LCG), Local Government District (LGD) and GP Federation level. A number of UK comparisons are also included.

    The publication is available on the Business Services Organisation’s website at: www.hscbusiness.hscni.net/services/3174.htm

    Key Points

    The key points from the 2020/21 Report are:

    General Medical Services

    • There were 321 active GP practices in Northern Ireland at 31st March 2021.  The comparative figure for 2014 was 350.  As the number of practices has decreased, the average number of registered patients per practice has increased by almost 14% from 5,500 in 2014 to 6,252 in 2021.
    • At LCG (Health Trust) level, Western has shown the largest proportionate decrease in GP Practices between 2014 and 2021 reducing by 16% to 48.  The smallest proportionate decrease during this period was in the Southern Trust area (4%) where the figure now stands at 73.
    • Despite the reduction in GP Practices, the number of GPs (excluding locums) has increased by 19% to 1,410 since 2014.  Of these, over half (58%) are female, a notable shift in gender profile since 2014 when the majority (54%) were male. It is important to note that figures presented for GPs are headcount rather than full-time equivalent so take no account of differences in hours worked or changes to practitioner working patterns over time.
    • There were 2,007,000 individuals registered with a GP practice at 31st March 2021. The LGD with the largest patient population was Belfast (429,000) while Lisburn and Castlereagh had the lowest number of registered patients (119,000).
    • During the 2020/21 financial year, there were just under 44,000 new (first time) patients registered to and approximately 40,000 patient registrations deducted from the index of registered patients. The equivalent figures for 2019/20 were 50,000 new patients and 40,000 deductions.
    • Of the new (first time) patients registered in Northern Ireland during 2020/21, 22% were non-UK nationals.  This proportion varied by LGD from 36% in Belfast being non-UK nationals compared to 10% in Causeway Coast and Glens.
    • During 2020/21, BSO processed £316.9m of payments towards the overall cost of GP services in Northern Ireland. The average BSO payment processed per registered patient was £158.
    • A large proportion of registered patients (98%) live within five miles of a GP practice. In some of the more urban LGDs (Belfast, Antrim & Newtownabbey, Lisburn & Castlereagh and Ards & North Down) at least 92% of registered patients live within three miles of a GP practice.

    11/06/2021: Western Trust welcomes £400k investment in Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital

    The Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) has welcomed the commitment of £400K from the Department of Health towards the continued modernisation of Mental Health Services in Omagh.

    The additional funding package was announced by Health Minister Robin Swann during a visit to Western Trust mental health and addictions units at the Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital in Omagh, where he took time to meet staff and to see the recent capital improvements to the Hospital.

    Minister Swann said: “As with my visits to other similar units across Northern Ireland, in recent times, I am continually struck by the amazing dedication and professionalism of the staff working in both addictions and mental health services. Particularly during the especially challenging times presented by the ongoing pandemic their resilience has been outstanding.”

    Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital provides inpatient acute mental health care, psychiatric intensive care and addictions inpatient care. The Hospital also provides a six-bedded crisis house, which has been transformed to provide hospital in-patient services to meet the increasing need associated with the COVID-19 pandemic.

    The facilities, some of which date back to the 1930’s are in need of investment, with the long term plan for a new 6,700m2 new-build facility to be located adjacent to the Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex. The new centre will replace existing outdated facilities and provide modern, fit-for-purpose accommodation in the Southern Sector of the Trust.

    Minister Swann reiterated that: “I consider a new mental health unit in Omagh to be a very important and deserving priority for my Department. That is why last September I resubmitted a bid for funding to commence the new unit as part of a four year capital budget information gathering exercise.

    “Without additional resources and a multi-year budget settlement my Department is unable to commence any significant new investments that will continue beyond this financial year.

    “I remain determined to keep pressing for the necessary funding for this important project but in the interim I can confirm my Department will provide a further £400k to invest in Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital to improve patient safety and experience. The investment will have a direct impact on patients and will improve outcomes and bringing the total invested in AMH facilities in Omagh over the last two years to almost £1.5million.”

    Commenting on the Minister’s visit, Western Health and Social Care Trust Director of Adult Mental Health & Disability Services, Karen O’Brien, said: “We are delighted to welcome the Minister to Omagh today to visit our Complex Detoxification Unit in the Asha Centre and our Elm, Lime and Integrated Psychiatric Intensive Care Units (PICU).

    “On behalf of the Western Trust I would like to thank him for taking time out of his busy schedule to come and view, first hand, our extensive acute mental health facilities in Omagh and to acknowledge the work and commitment of our staff towards the provision of mental health and social care services across the Western Trust.

    “For example, the Asha Centre plays a pivotal role in the provision of Mental Health Services by the Western Trust area by providing an 8 bedded regional detoxification unit which accepts referrals from Community Addiction Teams across Northern Ireland. Through the unit we offer the opportunity for medical detoxification and/or stabilisation for clients with complex drug and alcohol issues.

    “Through our Elm, Lime and Integrated PICU we provide 26 acute inpatient beds, 5 of which are used flexibly as integrated PICU beds and provide single gender dormitory style accommodation for service users.

    These wards were built in 1930 and 1955 respectively and are regularly maintained including recent improvement works following investment from the Department of Health. Despite this we are aware of the need for a larger scheme of work to provide modern, therapeutic spaces for our in-patients.

    “This is a situation that the Minister is fully aware of and the award of this additional £400k will help us to continue to address these issues and represents fantastic news in our ongoing drive to update and modernise these services across the Western Trust.”

    “On behalf of the Western Trust I would like to thank the Minister for his continued support and for his clear and continuing commitment towards those in need of mental health care, which is demonstrated through his support of proposals for a new mental health unit in Omagh.”


    11/06/2021: Update Western Trust Visiting Guidance Policy

    For the full updated Visiting Guidance Policy for the Western Trust, as at Friday 11 June 2021, please click on the PDF below:

    Click Here for Visiting Guidance Policy June 2021


    10/06/21: Introduction of shorter interval between vaccine doses

    From Department of Health (DoH)

    The interval between doses of the Oxford/AstraZeneca and Pfizer/BioNTech vaccines is to be reduced to a maximum of eight weeks.

    This will accelerate the vaccination programme as it moves into its final phase and will ensure that people across Northern Ireland have the strongest possible protection from variants of the Covid-19 virus.

    The Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said: “We have taken the decision to reduce the interval between vaccine doses following updated advice from the independent experts at the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) who have considered the latest available evidence on the Delta (B1.617.2) variant which was first identified in India.

    They have recommended reducing the dosing interval to help protect the community from the increasing prevalence of this variant and others that may arise. It’s vital that we move as quickly as possible, with the supplies of vaccine that we have available, to ensure that the maximum number of people receive both doses so that they have fuller and longer lasting protection against the virus.

    It’s vital we do everything we can and use every resource we have to ensure we continue to keep people safe. We have implemented measures at record pace to get on top of new variants and control their spread.

    “The tremendous success of our vaccination programme in Northern Ireland means that we are ahead of schedule, with more than 734,000 people already having received their second dose. We’ve come a long way on our journey through the pandemic and the quicker we can get our citizens fully vaccinated, the quicker we will be able to move back to a more normal way of life.”

    For those who have not yet been vaccinated, appointments for second doses will be scheduled no more than eight weeks after the first dose. For those who have already received their first dose, scheduled appointments for second doses will remain unaffected and people should keep the date they have been given. There is no need to contact the health service as there will be no change to your arrangements.

    Patricia Donnelly, head of the vaccination programme, said: “Everyone has a role to play in this effort. The vaccination programme is now open to all adults aged 18 and over and the uptake has been very positive. More than 1.8m vaccine doses have now been administered in Northern Ireland and further slots are opening up for booking today.

    “I would particularly urge those aged over 40, who have not yet come forward, to now book their jab at a community pharmacy. There are more than 350 pharmacies across Northern Ireland offering vaccine appointments. It’s a convenient, straightforward process enabling people to avail of the vaccine at a convenient location in their area.

    “After such a long and arduous struggle against the virus, the vaccine brings us hope and, most importantly, protection.”

  • May 2021

    12/05/2021: Update on Covid-19 Vaccination Programme

    Please note the following update on the COVID-19 Vaccination Programme in the Western Trust area.

    It is important to note that the Mass Vaccination Centres at Foyle Arena, Lakeland Forum and Omagh Leisure Centre are largely fully booked at present in respect of slots available to book online to receive the vaccine. The majority of the capacity is being used for 2nd dose vaccinations.  First dose vaccinations are currently only released in the Mass Vaccination Centres in NI up until 23 May 2021.

    A further update on when the next available slots for receiving the vaccine, from 24 May 2021, will follow next week.

    In the meantime if you have any queries please feel free to contact me:

    Chris Curran

    Public Affairs, Communications & Digital Media Manager

    Mobile: 07825 378780

    Tel Ext: 233894

    Direct Line: 028 8283 5457

    Release below from Department of Health – 12 May 2021
    How and where to get your vaccine jab

    Here’s a reminder of how and where to get your COVID-19 vaccination.

    Every vaccine represents a step forward, a step already taken by almost a million people here in Northern Ireland.

    By getting vaccinated you will not only be protecting yourself and others but also helping to accelerate the pace at which we can reclaim the freedoms we all took for granted and have missed so much.

    A new Northern Ireland advertising campaign has been launched this week to encourage eligible people to book their jabs. Its message is: “Every vaccination brings us closer, together”

    Anyone 40 or over can book their first vaccine dose at the Vaccination Centre at the SSE Arena or at more than 300 participating pharmacies across Northern Ireland where they will receive the AstraZeneca vaccine.
    People aged 30-39 can book their first dose appointments at the other regional Trust vaccination centres across Northern Ireland. These are Foyle Arena/ Omagh Leisure Centre/ Lakeland Forum/ South Lake Craigavon/ Seven Towers Ballymena/ RVH in Belfast.
    Vaccines supplies are likely to be limited over a number of weeks, so people awaiting their jab are asked to be patient. Be assured your turn will come.

    Booking your vaccine involves a few simple steps.

    If possible, booking should be done online at:  www.nidirect.gov.uk/covidvaccine Where they will be able to book an appointment and get detailed information on the options in terms of vaccine and setting.
    However, where online booking is not possible, the telephone booking number is 030 0200 7813
    Following the latest advice from the JCVI (Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation), people aged under 40 will be offered the Pfizer-BioNTech in NI through the regional Trust vaccination centres.

    People aged under 40 may still make an informed choice to receive the AstraZeneca vaccine, for instance where no alternative vaccine is available, or where someone has an appointment booked for vaccination in the coming days and may prefer not to reschedule to receive an alternative vaccine.

    Anyone of any age who has received an AstraZeneca first dose should proceed with their second dose of AstraZeneca. That’s unless they have had clinical advice not to do so. Second doses provide longer and stronger protection against the virus.

    The JCVI has stated clearly that there have been no safety concerns identified for blood clots/low platelet count associated with the second dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine.

    www.gov.uk/government/publications/use-of-the-astrazeneca-covid-19-vaccine-jcvi-statement-7-may-2021/use-of-the-astrazeneca-covid-19-azd1222-vaccine-updated-jcvi-statement-7-may-2021


    07/05/2021: Mr Neil Guckian announced as new Chief Executive

    The Western Health and Social Care Trust has announced the appointment of Neil Guckian to the role of Chief Executive at their Trust Board meeting on May 7th.

    Mr Guckian, who is the current Director of Finance and Contracting with the Western Trust, is due to take up his new role on July 1st 2021 when current Chief Executive, Dr Anne Kilgallen steps down after four years in charge.

    Announcing Mr Guckian’s appointment Western Trust Chair, Mr Sam Pollock, said: “We are extremely pleased to be able to announce the appointment of Neil to the role of Chief Executive with the Western Trust.

    “Neil is an outstanding candidate and is an individual we know well through his sterling work as the Western Trust’s Director of Finance and Contracting for almost two years.

    “We believe he will build upon the excellent work of our current Chief Executive, whilst developing and implementing his own course over the years ahead.”

    Praising the contribution of outgoing Chief Executive, Dr Kilgallen, Mr Pollock said: “We would also like to take the opportunity to extend our sincere thanks and gratitude to Dr Kilgallen for her dedication, drive and vision which has helped shape every aspect of our organisation throughout her successful tenure.

    “From day one Anne consistently operated in her role as Chief Executive of the Western Trust by leading from the front. Her leadership, human touch and strategic vision has helped steer the Trust through some of the most difficult times faced by our health and social care in living memory.

    “She leaves the Western Trust stronger for her endeavours, and for that we are extremely grateful to her.”

    Commenting on his appointment, Mr Guckian said: “I am extremely honoured to have been appointed to the post of Chief Executive of the Western Health and Social Care Trust.

    “Anne has led the Western Trust admirably over the course of the last few years and I am looking forward to building on the strong foundations she has put in place within the Trust.

    “Undoubtedly, the Western Trust, like all other Trusts, has faced a very difficult and challenging time over the past 18 months, which has been acutely difficult for both patients and staff.

    “We can be certain that the months and years ahead will bring with them their own set of challenges as we move out of the pandemic phase and into the new post Covid-19 world. To be best positioned to meet these challenges we, as a Trust, must be at the forefront of innovative and transformative care.

    “Regardless of what lies ahead, as Chief Executive you can be assured that my focus will remain firmly fixed on the health and wellbeing of our staff and on the improvement of the quality of care and outcomes for the people served by the Western Trust.”

    Commenting on the appointment of her successor, outgoing Chief Executive Dr Anne Killgallen said: “I am very pleased that Neil has been appointed as the new Chief Executive of the Western Trust. I have worked closely with him over the past number of years and hold him in the highest regard.

    “Given Neil’s expertise and leadership he will provide a timely and high-quality response to the challenges faced within the Health and Care Sector and I am confident that he will continue to lead the organisation in pursuit of its ambition to provide excellent care for our population.”


    07/05/2021: Specific Update on Visiting Arrangements for Maternity Services

    Following a number of enquiries, please note the following specific update on Visiting arrangements for Maternity Services, with the Western Trust having today implemented new enhanced visiting arrangements in our facilities:

    • Maternity Wards: One daily visit from one of two nominated individuals (from up to two households) can be permitted, where this can be accommodated within COVID secure environments
    • Maternity Outpatients: A woman’s partner will be facilitated to accompany the pregnant woman to dating scan (less than 12 weeks), anomaly scan (at 19 weeks) and foetal medicine clinics. At all other appointments the woman and partner should be advised that the partner remain outside the building and will be contacted if and when required.
    • Labour and Birth: A chosen birth partner will be facilitated to accompany the pregnant woman for induction of labour, duration of labour and birth and, for up to three hours after the birth.
    • For the latest news on revised visiting arrangements please click here for more: CLICK HERE

    Unfortunately our staff are continuing to receive verbal abuse and harassment from some members of the public in regards to visiting restrictions in place at our hospitals and healthcare facilities.

    We wish to remind the public that all measures being implemented are to protect patients and staff in these challenging times and everyone who visits our facilities should be respectful of all our staff who dedicate themselves to caring for others and saving lives.

    Please remember there is a zero tolerance policy in place across all Trust facilities, with respect to verbal and physical abuse towards any member of staff.


    06/05/2021: Revised Visiting Guidance for Western Trust Care Facilities from Friday 7 May 2021

    Visiting times whilst restricted will vary to assist the Trust to manage footfall of people in hospital and community facilities, and to maintain a safe environment for our patients and health care workers.  The nominated visitors will be provided with a designated time to visit.

    Duration of visiting time – Strictly up to a maximum duration of One Hour, daily and to one patient.

    Acute and Community Hospitals

    Visiting times whilst restricted will vary from 2pm and up to 8pm each day, excluding Maternity whose times are noted below.

    Maternity Wards:

    One daily visit from one of two nominated individuals (from up to two households) can be permitted, where this can be accommodated within COVID secure environments.

    Maternity Outpatients

    A chosen birth partner will be facilitated to accompany the pregnant woman to dating scan, anomaly and foetal medicine clinic where the environment is COVID-19 secure.

    Labour and Birth:

    A chosen birth partner will be facilitated to accompany the pregnant woman for induction of labour, duration of labour and birth and, for up to three hours after the birth.

    Inpatient Wards:

    One daily visit from one of two nominated individuals (from up to two households) can be permitted, where this can be accommodated within COVID secure environments.

    Intensive Care units:

    One daily visit from one of two nominated individuals (from up to two households) can be permitted, where this can be accommodated within COVID secure environments.  Visiting will be more flexible in exceptional circumstances.

    Emergency Department:

    Due to inability to ensure a social distance of 2 metres, it is not possible for one person to be facilitated to accompany each patient at the Emergency Department.  Where possible the patient attending ED should do so alone, except where they have mobility or other impairment that requires them to be accompanied by one other person.

    Outpatient Appointments:

    Due to inability to ensure a social distance of 2 metres, it is not possible for one person to be facilitated to accompany each patient at all outpatient appointments.  Where possible the patient attending for the appointment should do so alone, except where they have mobility or other impairment that requires them to be accompanied by one other person.

    Radiology Department:

    One person only to be facilitated to accompany each patient where the environment is COVID secure exceptions are in the following circumstances:

      • Patient is unable to  understand or communicate with staff,
      • Patient requires physical or emotional assistance beyond that which Radiology staff can provide.
      • Patient is a child, so must be accompanied by a parent or chaperone.  In these cases one person only to accompany patient.

    Foetal Anomaly scanning – Women attending for Anomaly scanning may be accompanied by one nominated person.

    • Any patient developing COVID19 symptoms prior to their appointment should contact their local Radiology Department for rescheduling advice
    • For all attendances at Radiology a face covering must be worn.

    Cancer/Burns/Renal Unit

    One person only to be facilitated to accompany each patient where the environment is COVID secure.  This is subject to local discretion in response to individualised risk assessment due to the vulnerability of the patients being cared for in these units.

    Click here for full Trust Visiting Policy – from 7 May 2021

    Ongoing updates to the public will continue to be provided at the official Trust website page here:

    Western Trust Website Visiting Guidance

  • April 2021

    23/04/2021: Temporary Pause of Early Medical Abortion Service

    The Western Health and Social Care Trust have had to temporarily pause the delivery of the Early Medical Abortion Service (EMA).  Referrals for this service can no longer be accepted from 5.00pm on Friday 23rd April 2021 until further notice.

     

    The Trust requires additional nursing and medical support in order to deliver this service and are actively exploring all options in respect of this. The Trust apologises for any concern this may cause and can assure the public that we are continuing to work towards minimising any disruption this will cause in the interim period.

     

    Further information will follow when available.


    14/04/2021: Note on use of Astra Zeneca COVID-19 Vaccine doses in Western Trust

    Across the three Mass Vaccination Centres run by the Western Health and Social Care Trust, all first dose vaccines administered are Astra Zeneca. The exception to this is for those administered to people under 30 years of age who are either Healthcare workers, carers who have been referred for booking by the Trust’s Carer Co-ordinator or anyone who is clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable and under 18.  These groups are administered with the Pfizer vaccine. Those who are clinically vulnerable or clinically extremely vulnerable, and are over 18 but under 30 years of age, continue to be offered Astra Zeneca, but can also opt to have Pfizer.  These arrangements comply with JCVI advice.

    Other than for the groups set out above, the Western Trust does not at this time provide the option to receive the Pfizer vaccine at the Mass Vaccination Centres for those presenting for a first dose vaccination. However, the Department of Health works closely with all Trusts on deploying the supply of COVID-19 vaccines coming to NI, and therefore the current position may be subject to change.

    Further details and update in respect of the Astra Zeneca Vaccine have been provided by the Department of Health and can be read here: http://www.health-ni.gov.uk/news/department-health-statement-astrazeneca-roll-out

     

    Department of Health statement on AstraZeneca roll-out
    (7 April 2021)

    The AstraZeneca (AZ) vaccine will continue to have a vital role in saving lives, reducing hospitalisations and helping Northern Ireland move out of lockdown.

    In line with latest MHRA and JCVI advice, the AZ vaccine will be rolled out on a phased basis to people aged 30 and over in Northern Ireland, as supplies permit. It will also continue to be made available to adults of all ages who have underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of serious illness or death from COVID-19.

    Those aged 18-29 who do not have an underlying medical condition will be offered an alternative vaccine when this is available. This is in line with expert JCVI and MHRA updates issued today. These followed reports of an extremely rare potential adverse event of blood clots and low platelet count following vaccination with the first dose of AstraZeneca – although this has not yet been established.

    MHRA, the UK’s expert regulator for medicine and vaccines, and the EMA have made clear that the benefits of the AstraZeneca vaccine outweigh the risks for the vast majority of adults.

    The JCVI has similarly stressed that that the benefits of prompt vaccination with the AstraZeneca COVID-19 vaccine far outweigh the risk of any adverse event for individuals 30 years of age and over and for all those who have underlying health conditions which put them at higher risk of severe COVID-19 disease.

    The expert advice to people aged 30 and over, and to adults of all ages who are vulnerable to COVID-19, is clear – get the AstraZeneca vaccine to protect yourself from the COVID-19 virus.

    The Department of Health in Northern Ireland will be updating advice to health professionals and the public, in light of the updated MHRA and JCVI statements issued today.

    We will also be assessing the potential impact on the vaccination programme’s timescale.

    It is very important that everybody who has already had their first dose of the AstraZeneca vaccine gets their second dose of the same vaccine, irrespective of age.  The only exception is for the very small number of people who experienced blood clots with low platelet counts following their first dose.


    13/04/2021: Launch of Western Trust Rebuild Plans

    Health Minister Robin Swann has today published the latest Trust Rebuilding Plans for Health and Social Care, covering the period April to June.

    The Health Minister said the COVID-19 pandemic has had a “significant impact” on “our already appalling waiting lists”. It had also “highlighted serious long established fragilities in our health and social care system, especially in terms of staffing capacity”.

    The Trust rebuilding plans include elective (planned) care being prioritised regionally. Mr Swann told MLAs elective surgery will be prioritised in line with greatest clinical need, and will not be dependent on a patient’s postcode.

    CLICK HERE for Minister’s final statement regarding Rebuild Planning.

    CLICK HERE for the Western Health and Social Care Trust Rebuild Plans for April to June 2021.


    08/04/2021: Briefing update on Adult Mental Health Services

    Adult Mental Health Services

    The Adult Mental Health Service provides a range of inpatient and community based services for adults.  The Adult Mental Health Service is structured along key functional lines and is a biopsychosocial model and therefore delivered by a range of multidisciplinary professionals i.e., Nurses, Social Workers, Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Occupational Therapists and Pharmacists. To ensure service user and carer involvement in the development and provision of services, we work closely with a service user consultant as well as carers groups.

    The functionalised teams are as follows: Primary Care Liaison (PCL) Crisis Response Home Treatment (CRHT), Recovery Service, Adult Psychological Therapy, Alcohol and Drug Service, Forensics, Personality Disorder and Eating Disorder.

    The Crisis Service

    The Crisis Service provides a 24 hour, 7 day a week response to those people experiencing a significant mental health crisis.  The service will offer a range of responses to manage short term crisis including, inpatient services, home treatment and acute day care.

    In the Northern Sector which covers Derry City, Limavady and Strabane Council areas, Crisis Response Home Treatment (CRHT) is provided through a 30 bed inpatient unit including 6 higher intensity inpatient beds. The team performs a number of functions i.e. 24/7 gate-keeping to inpatient beds, crisis assessments, community home treatment based interventions as alternatives to hospital admission and acute day care provision.

    In the Southern Sector, which covers Omagh and Fermanagh Council areas, CRHT is provided through 26 inpatient beds (with 5 higher intensity beds) in the Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital. It performs similar functions including 24/7 gate-keeping to inpatient beds, crisis assessments, step up and step down to Rathview Home Treatment House and community home treatment based interventions as alternative hospital admission. A further element of crisis services is acute day care provision which will be developed to deliver services in Omagh and Enniskillen.

    Primary Care Liaison

    PCL – a single point of access to Tier 3 Mental Health services.  Due to the geography of the Western Trust there are three entry points; one in the Northern Sector, one Omagh and one in Enniskillen in the Southern Sector. These teams address all urgent mental health referrals and elective referrals within a 9 week standard as per the Mental Health Access Protocol.  Co-located with PCL teams in both sectors there will be a well-being hub which will manage all tier 2 referrals from GPs.  These hubs will liaise and link with the Community Sector and Voluntary Sector to ensure a ‘no wrong door approach’ for clients requiring Tier 2 mental health services.

    Recovery Service

    Mental Health Recovery Services in the Western Trust exist to support people with serious and enduring mental health problems in their personal journey towards recovery. Services are underpinned by the principles of a person centred, strengths based approach, recognising the unique skills, creativity and expertise both of the service user and the helper. The guiding principles of autonomy, fairness, protection, dignity and respect are integral to the therapeutic alliance.

    There are 6 locality based multi-disciplinary Recovery teams across the Trust.

    Recovery Services include 10 supported living facilities which provide accommodation and support for those with complex needs in line with the established criteria. There are also 5 centres providing day opportunities across the Trust.  The Recovery Service also encompasses provision for short breaks and carers support.  There are a number of contracts with Community and Voluntary Sector providers managed through the Recovery Services. The Recovery Service includes the Condition Management Programme, a DEL funded service to support unemployed service users to manage their health condition and gain employment.  The development of the Recovery College hub and spoke model and a range of service user initiatives are managed through the Recovery Service.

    A specialist aspect of the Recovery Service is the Forensic Mental Health Team which is a Trust Wide Service that works predominately with recovery clients with co-morbid forensic issues and mental health conditions.

    Adult Psychological Therapy Services

    There are two Adult Psychological Therapy Teams, one north and one south.  These teams primarily treat service users at Steps 4 & 5 (more complex cases). The Teams incorporate modalities such as CBT, Psychology and Psychotherapy. We aim to manage referrals to this team within a 13 week standard as per the Mental Health Access Protocol.

    Other Specialist Services

    There are a number of Trust wide specialist services such as Addictions, Eating Disorders, the Regional Trauma Network and Personality Disorders. Service users within the Specialist services can be managed within a single team depending on need or in partnership with any of the above services.

    With Addiction Services there are 2 managed multi-disciplinary community addiction teams and an Inpatient Detoxification Unit. There is a substance misuse liaison provision to acute and mental health hospitals also.

    Eating Disorders is a managed multi-disciplinary team which has Trust wide responsibility.

    Personality Disorder Team is psychology led with a Trust wide remit currently providing support and partnership working with the above teams. They continue to developing services for therapeutic groups across Trust and supporting practitioners to sustain these groups.

    The Regional Trauma Network are a specialist multi-disciplinary team providing intervention for service users that have been assessed as having experienced significant Trauma, including Troubles related issues.

    Transformation Projects

     

    Mental Health Liaison Service

    The Western Trust commenced the development of an Enhanced Mental Health Liaison service (MHLS) to its acute general hospitals in 2019 with a view to improving the care and treatment of people with mental health or addictions presentations in Emergency Departments and acute general hospital wards and to support discharge and appropriate follow-up.

    Towards Zero Suicide

    TZS collaborative aims to research and adopt best practice in suicide prevention. We are fully engaged in the relevant regional workstreams and initiatives, with the wider implementation of our co-produced safety planning tool a regional priority.

    Stepped Care Model – How services are organised

    Stepped Care Model

    From Regional Mental Health Care Pathway, 2014

    Five Ways to Wellbeing – What we can all do

    5 Ways to Wellbeing Diagram


    02/04/2021: Chief Executive Report to Trust board

    Chief Executive’s Report to Trust Board on Thursday 1 April 2021

     

    TRUST BOARD: THURSDAY, 1 April 2021

    Chief Executive’s Report – Click Here to View

    Over the next 3 months, my focus will be on 5 priorities:

    • Improving access to services
    • Keeping services safe and functioning
    • Supporting staff
    • Financial stability and
    • Positioning staff for new ways of working

    Dr Anne Kilgallen

    Chief Executive

  • March 2021

    31/03/2021: Cityside Health and Care Centre Update

    Artist Impression 2 The Western Trust today welcomed the decision by the Department for Communities Minister to agree to the sale of part of the Fort George site to the Western Trust.  This will now facilitate plans for the Cityside Health and Care Centre at Fort George, bringing together GP and associated healthcare services in an integrated model.

    Today’s news follows the recent Department of Health 1st stage approval of the Outline Business Case for £5.4m of a potential £70m investment by the Trust at this city side location.  Both decisions now allow the Trust to progress site acquisition for the necessary parcel of land at Fort George and agreements on other relevant planning aspects to ensure progression of detailed design and preparation of tender documents.

    On completion the development will see the relocation of approximately 450 existing posts, which will further enhance the co-location of GP and Trust multi-disciplinary teams including nursing, social work, allied health professional, mental health and administrative posts, and with a further 250 newly created posts being centred at this location.  The new centre will also enable both Trust and GP Medical Practices to expand and enhance local medical and social care service needs currently delivered from existing constricted and widely dispersed accommodation throughout the City.

    Speaking after the announcement Dr Anne Kilgallen Chief Executive of the Western Trust welcomed the approval by Department of Health for 1st stage of the business case and the agreement of Department for Communities to facilitate the sale of a portion of the Fort George site to the Trust.

    She went on to say that “today’s news is an important first step in the development of   the Cityside Health and Care Centre which will provide enhanced health care throughout the City, whilst also facilitating the wider economic development of the region through the creation of new permanent health posts and temporary construction jobs during the building of the facility”.

    Aritsts ImpressionThe Western Trust plan to complete detailed design and tender preparation within 28 months.  Progression to tender and award of the construction contract will however be dependent upon a 2nd stage approval being granted by the Department of Health and affordability at that time.

    The Health and Care Centre is a priority project within the Department of Health’s Primary Care Infrastructure Development (PCID) programme which is an essential element of the transformational agenda for health and social care.


    29/03/2021: Launch of The SSE Arena as a regional vaccination centre

    The launch of The SSE Arena as a regional vaccination centre took place this morning.

    The centre opened today, Monday 29 March 2021, and is the latest element of the multi-faceted and complex vaccine programme which remains significantly ahead of schedule.

    The centre is currently vaccinating anyone aged 50 or over and slots are still available.

    The Covid-19 vaccination Centre at The SSE Arena Belfast will operate alongside the other trust centres; GP practices; and the participating community pharmacies to deliver the vaccine to the Northern Ireland population.

    People wanting to book a vaccination centre appointment are asked to do so online if it all possible: https://vaccinations.covid-19.hscni.net/booking

    If online booking is not possible, then the telephone booking number is 0300 200 7813.

    Those eligible also have the option of waiting for their GP to contact them to arrange their jab.

    The vaccination centres are providing vaccines to: the 50 plus age group; anyone who received a shielding letter because they are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV); and anyone who is a main carer of an elderly or disabled person.

    GPs are providing vaccines to: the 50 plus age group; anyone who received a shielding letter because they are Clinically Extremely Vulnerable (CEV); carers; patients aged 18 and over who have underlying medical conditions. The latter Clinically Vulnerable (CV) group is expected to largely mirror those who receive the winter flu vaccine each year because of their medical conditions.  CEV and CV individuals aged 16 and 17 years of age cannot receive the vaccine being used in GP practices. These individuals will receive a letter from their GP and are able to book a vaccination slot at one of the vaccination centres.

    There is no need to contact your GP regarding vaccination – they will contact you as they work through their lists.

    Department of Health update:

    The vaccination centre at the SSE Arena is another step on the pathway to a better and safer future, the First Minister, deputy First Minister and Health Minister have said.

    The Ministers were speaking at the launch of The SSE Arena as a regional vaccination centre.

    Click here for full release: https://www.health-ni.gov.uk/news/sse-arena-significant-step-rollout-vaccination-programme


    29/03/2021: Community pharmacy vaccine service launches

    Health Minister Robin Swann has today launched a new community pharmacy Covid-19 vaccination service.

    Speaking during a visit to Timoney Pharmacy in Lambeg, Health Minister Robin Swann said: “This is a significant day in our vaccination journey and I am delighted to formally launch this new Covid-19 vaccination service in community pharmacies across Northern Ireland.”

    The new service will see almost 350 community pharmacies throughout Northern Ireland begin to administer the vaccine and will mean eligible members of the public will be able to avail of the vaccine at a location more local to them. At present this applies to those aged 50 years and over. This latest development follows the official opening of the Covid-19 vaccination centre at the SSE arena in Belfast earlier today.

    As with previous phases of the vaccination programme, it is anticipated that demand for the community pharmacy Covid-19 vaccine service will be high and members of the public are asked to remain patient.

    Information on how to book a vaccination appointment at a pharmacy is published here:

    https://covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated/ 

    Minister Swann said: “Community pharmacy teams have remained dedicated to providing the public with vital health care and support through what have been very challenging times. Pharmacists have a wealth of expertise, skills and experience which makes them very well-placed for delivering the Covid-19 vaccine. The addition of this new service will help speed up the roll-out of the existing programme by increasing capacity and local accessibility to vaccines for the general population, particularly for those who may find it more difficult to travel to one of the mass vaccination centres.”

    After receiving her vaccine at the pharmacy, Chief Pharmaceutical Officer Cathy Harrison said: “Community pharmacies have played a vital role throughout the pandemic and will continue to do so as they join the vaccination roll-out programme. Over the course of the past year, the general public has come to rely on community pharmacists more than ever before due to their accessibility and the addition of this new service will greatly benefit the people of Northern Ireland.

    “Given the high demand for vaccines we anticipate that community pharmacies will be a popular option for those who are eligible so please be patient with pharmacy teams.”

    Joe Brogan, Head of Pharmacy and Medicines Management at the Health and Social Care Board said: “The COVID vaccination campaign is one of the ways that we as a society will move forward. It is vital that our population has every opportunity to access this service and it’s fantastic to have almost 350 additional locations where people can book an appointment for a vaccine at a time and a place that suits them.

    “I wish to recognise the tremendous response of community pharmacy teams in supporting the response to COVID and support our pathway out of the pandemic.”

    Gerard Greene, Chief Executive of Community Pharmacy NI said: “I am delighted to see the roll out of the community pharmacy vaccination programme. This will bring a further boost to the regional and national vaccination programme and ensure that even more people in our communities are protected from the virus.

    “The advantage in being able to receive the vaccine at participating local community pharmacies is their accessibility so people can get the vaccine at a location more convenient to them.

    “We do ask the public for patience over the coming weeks as this new service gets up and running. Pharmacists will be vaccinating the public along with their usual work in ensuring the safe supply of medicines and provision of medical advice.

    “As clinically trained vaccinators, community pharmacists are looking forward to begin vaccinating their communities and contribute even further to the wider Covid-19 response.”

    As always, the pace of the roll-out of the vaccination programme will be dependent on the availability of vaccine supplies.


    26/03/2021: Update to MLA/MPs on Adult Mental Health Services

    The Adult Mental Health Service provides a range of inpatient and community based services for adults.  The Adult Mental Health Service is structured along key functional lines and is a biopsychosocial model and therefore delivered by a range of multidisciplinary professionals i.e., Nurses, Social Workers, Psychiatrists, Psychologists and Occupational Therapists and Pharmacists. To ensure service user and carer involvement in the development and provision of services, we work closely with a service user consultant as well as carers groups.

    The functionalised teams are as follows: Primary Care Liaison (PCL) Crisis Response Home Treatment (CRHT), Recovery Service, Adult Psychological Therapy, Alcohol and Drug Service, Forensics, Personality Disorder and Eating Disorder.

    The Crisis Service

    The Crisis Service provides a 24 hour, 7 day a week response to those people experiencing a significant mental health crisis.  The service will offer a range of responses to manage short term crisis including, inpatient services, home treatment and acute day care.

    In the Northern Sector which covers Derry City, Limavady and Strabane Council areas, Crisis Response Home Treatment (CRHT) is provided through a 30 bed inpatient unit including 6 higher intensity inpatient beds. The team performs a number of functions i.e. 24/7 gate-keeping to inpatient beds, crisis assessments, community home treatment based interventions as alternatives to hospital admission and acute day care provision.

    In the Southern Sector, which covers Omagh and Fermanagh Council areas, CRHT is provided through 26 inpatient beds (with 5 higher intensity beds) in the Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital. It performs similar functions including 24/7 gate-keeping to inpatient beds, crisis assessments, step up and step down to Rathview Home Treatment House and community home treatment based interventions as alternative hospital admission. A further element of crisis services is acute day care provision which will be developed to deliver services in Omagh and Enniskillen.

    Primary Care Liaison 

    PCL – a single point of access to Tier 3 Mental Health services.  Due to the geography of the Western Trust there are three entry points; one in the Northern Sector, one Omagh and one in Enniskillen in the Southern Sector. These teams address all urgent mental health referrals and elective referrals within a 9 week standard as per the Mental Health Access Protocol.  Co-located with PCL teams in both sectors there will be a well-being hub which will manage all tier 2 referrals from GPs.  These hubs will liaise and link with the Community Sector and Voluntary Sector to ensure a ‘no wrong door approach’ for clients requiring Tier 2 mental health services.

    Recovery Service

    Mental Health Recovery Services in the Western Trust exist to support people with serious and enduring mental health problems in their personal journey towards recovery. Services are underpinned by the principles of a person centred, strengths based approach, recognising the unique skills, creativity and expertise both of the service user and the helper. The guiding principles of autonomy, fairness, protection, dignity and respect are integral to the therapeutic alliance.

    There are 6 locality based multi-disciplinary Recovery teams across the Trust.

    Recovery Services include 10 supported living facilities which provide accommodation and support for those with complex needs in line with the established criteria. There are also 5 centres providing day opportunities across the Trust.  The Recovery Service also encompasses provision for short breaks and carers support.  There are a number of contracts with Community and Voluntary Sector providers managed through the Recovery Services. The Recovery Service includes the Condition Management Programme, a DEL funded service to support unemployed service users to manage their health condition and gain employment.  The development of the Recovery College hub and spoke model and a range of service user initiatives are managed through the Recovery Service.

    A specialist aspect of the Recovery Service is the Forensic Mental Health Team which is a Trust Wide Service that works predominately with recovery clients with co-morbid forensic issues and mental health conditions.

    Adult Psychological Therapy Services

    There are two Adult Psychological Therapy Teams, one north and one south.  These teams primarily treat service users at Steps 4 & 5 (more complex cases). The Teams incorporate modalities such as CBT, Psychology and Psychotherapy. We aim to manage referrals to this team within a 13 week standard as per the Mental Health Access Protocol.

    Other Specialist Services

    There are a number of Trust wide specialist services such as Addictions, Eating Disorders, the Regional Trauma Network and Personality Disorders. Service users within the Specialist services can be managed within a single team depending on need or in partnership with any of the above services.

    With Addiction Services there are 2 managed multi-disciplinary community addiction teams and an Inpatient Detoxification Unit. There is a substance misuse liaison provision to acute and mental health hospitals also.

    Eating Disorders is a managed multi-disciplinary team which has Trust wide responsibility.

    Personality Disorder Team is psychology led with a Trust wide remit currently providing support and partnership working with the above teams. They continue to developing services for therapeutic groups across Trust and supporting practitioners to sustain these groups.

    The Regional Trauma Network are a specialist multi-disciplinary team providing intervention for service users that have been assessed as having experienced significant Trauma, including Troubles related issues.

     

    Transformation Projects

    Mental Health Liaison Service

    The Western Trust commenced the development of an Enhanced Mental Health Liaison service (MHLS) to its acute general hospitals in 2019 with a view to improving the care and treatment of people with mental health or addictions presentations in Emergency Departments and acute general hospital wards and to support discharge and appropriate follow-up.

     

    Towards Zero Suicide

    TZS collaborative aims to research and adopt best practice in suicide prevention. We are fully engaged in the relevant regional workstreams and initiatives, with the wider implementation of our co-produced safety planning tool a regional priority.


    04/03/2021: Test of change model of care in Drumclay Care Facility transitions to Hospital at Home model of care from March 2021

    On 10 September 2018 the Trust was advised by the Ebbay Group of their intention to close Drumclay Care Home, Enniskillen in December 2018.

    Following a significant Pathfinder engagement programme across Fermanagh and West Tyrone in 2018/2019, there was a very strong voice from the people in the area to look at new ways of delivering services closer to the Community.

    • Therefore in April 2019, the Western Trust piloted a ‘Test of Change’ to utilise the facility and entered into a short-term lease agreement with the Ebbay Group, for a period up to 31 August 2020 and then extended to 31 March 2021. This provided time for further development of the model and adequate lead in time for an April 2021 alternative.
    • In the ensuing period, the Drumclay Care Facility successfully cared for and rehabilitated over two hundred service users enabling the majority to return home independently with greater self-confidence. The service was nurse led, with day-to-day input from physiotherapy, occupational therapy and pharmacy and including medical support whenever needed from local General Practitioners, hospital consultants and specialist teams as well as voluntary groups and social navigators such as mPower.

    The combination of hospital and community teams enabled the service to care for patients from elderly wards, medical, surgical wards and Emergency Department and has successfully operated without daily medical input. In addition, since April 2020, the facility provided support during the Covid-19 Surge, supporting the recovery and rehabilitation of COVID-19 patients.

    This ‘test of change’ model of service, designed in partnership with the community, has enabled Trust teams to now move to the next stage of development, one that is supporting patients who would benefit from acute and longer term rehabilitative care in a homely setting, to receiving that sub-acute care in their actual home, in ways that will prevent them from going to hospital in the first place, as well as to facilitate their discharge more quickly should they be in hospital. For anyone who lives in a residential or nursing home, this service will equally provide for their treatment and rehabilitative needs.

    Therefore the transition in the model of care offered through Drumclay Care Facility by the Trust to the new ‘Hospital At Home’ model of care, which has been in pilot phase since December 2020, will take place from March 2021 as the size of the team expands. The short-term lease agreement which the Trust had undertaken for Drumclay Care Facility up to 31 March 2021 will thus cease from the end of March.

    On discussing the transitional move from Drumclay Care Facility to the new model of caring for people in their own homes, Dr Bob Brown, Director of Primary Care and Older People’s Care and Executive Director of Nursing, commented:

    “Over the past 18 months the Drumclay facility has operated as a Pathfinder exemplar, supporting people to return home by improving their functional ability and re-building their self-confidence.  Our experience of operating Drumclay as a hospital avoidance and step down from hospital service has now provided the vision for how services should be developed in the future. It has emphasised the need for a model of care for older people with services that are centred around communities and a focus on maintaining older people safely at home for as long as they wish.”

    The Hospital at Home service has been welcomed by the public, having been developed in the middle of the COVID-19 pandemic as a way to provide support to Care Homes. This is both a key element of the future regional model for Intermediate Care as well as the ‘Enhancing Clinical Care into Care Homes’ regional initiative. This transition to an innovative future model, which developed in Drumclay, is thus in keeping with local need, Pathfinder engagement feedback and regional policy.

    Speaking about the early success of the Hospital at Home Project, Dr Monica Monaghan, Western Trust Consultant Cardiologist explains:

    “I have been delighted to be part of the launch of the Hospital at Home Pilot initiative to transform the care of our patients and creating an alternative pathway for the treatment of acutely unwell patients. We recognise that we have an increasingly elderly population and patients who remain in hospital for what can be longer periods of time than we would like and thus are at increasing risk of hospital acquired infections, loss of their confidence and social connections with their family and local community. They are also out of their home environment and for some people of older age who experience frailty, they can be at increased risk of delirium and falls.”

    Hospital at Home model of care

    In November 2020, a Hospital at Home Development Group was formed. With support from the South West Acute Hospital Medical team, Pharmacy and the Rapid Response Nursing team a pilot hospital at home service was established on 14 December 2020.  This initially involved working with 4 Care Homes in Enniskillen including Millcroft Care Home, The County Care Home, Meadow View Care Home and The Graan Abbey Nursing Home.  Through this model of care the team assess and treat residents in these Care Homes to avoid the need to attend Emergency Department and an admission to hospital. It is also the West Trust’s intention in the year ahead to expand the Hospital at Home service, over time to all of Fermanagh and West Tyrone, in keeping with the Pathfinder vision.

    Dr Kate Ryan and Dr Rizwan Haq, are the Speciality Doctors for the service and they are supported by the Rapid Response Nursing team in Fermanagh.  Clinical Leadership to the service is provided by Dr Monica Monaghan, Consultant Cardiologist South West Acute Hospital.

    NOTES:

    The Western Trust will deliver services in line with an Integrated Model for Prevention & Management of Chronic Disease (informed by the King’s Fund model), with greater emphasis to be placed on developing and enhancing Intermediate Care services.  Intermediate Care services will act as the bridge at the transition in a person’s life, in particular from hospital to home and hospital avoidance, from illness or injury to recovery and independence with a strong emphasis on providing personalised health and care to the service user in their own home or usual place of residence.  This is in line with regional strategic direction which is summarised below:

    The commissioning priority for unscheduled care is to have effective integrated services organised around the needs of individual people and provided at home, avoiding the need for hospital admission and to support safe discharge from hospital.

    NOTE:

    MLAs and MPs who wish to ask questions and receive further information on the update below are asked to attend the below MLA/MP Virtual Briefing on Friday 12 March 2021 at 1pm (as detailed below) with Chief Executive Dr Anne Kilgallen and Directors, notification for which was sent earlier. A briefing on this with the Fermanagh and Omagh District Council health Committee is scheduled to take place at 2pm, as below.

    A reminder that updates will also be posted and available on the Public Representatives Online hub (Private Page) here: https://westerntrust.hscni.net/public-representatives/

    Friday 12 March 2021 –Briefing for Fermanagh and West Tyrone

    2 point agenda for Southern Sector on:

    SWAH Surgical Services and Drumclay Care Facility update and the transition to Hospital at Home model of care

    • 12pm-1pm: MLA/MPs and
    • 2pm-3pm: Fermanagh and Omagh District Council Health Committee

    01/03/2021: Unpaid Carers Vaccination programme

    Who is eligible?

    • Carers who provide regular care for an elderly or disabled person.
    • Carers in receipt of Carers Allowance or Carers Credit
    • You must be over 18
    • Care Partners

    Who is not included in this group?

    • Employed Care workers (employed via an agency or privately)
    • Carers who do not have a Health & Care number for Northern Ireland

    The Carers Support Team are receiving a high volume of calls regarding the vaccination programme for unpaid carers. Please, where possible email your query to Carers.Support1@westerntrust.hscni.net

    The team will respond as soon as possible, please be patient.

  • February 2021

    27/02/2021: Revised Visiting Guidance for Western Trust Care Facilities from Monday 1 March 2021

    Following guidance set out by the Department of Health, The Western Health and Social Health Trust (Western Trust) has confirmed changes to visiting arrangements for all care settings, which will apply from Monday 1 March.

    The measures have been agreed after all four UK Chief Medical Officers recommended that the Regional Alert Level should move back from Level 5 to Level 4 with immediate effect.

    As a result, the visiting restrictions for all care settings across Northern Ireland will revert to those applying at Level 4 from Monday 1 March 2021 and full details are listed below and on the attached guidance.

    From Monday 1 March:

    • One person may visit for up to one hour once a week, unless otherwise specified in a certain service or area.
    • In Hospice Facilities this is one family member or carer to be permitted access to visit for up to one hour daily, where the environment is COVID.
    • See definition by service in the DoH Visiting Guidance summary below.
    • Click here for information on visiting in each service area and setting:

      DoH Visiting Guidance Summary Version 26 02 21

    You can also continue to arrange a ‘virtual visit’ with your relative or friend on a smartphone or tablet. Our hospitals have access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient. Our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care.

    Please remember that all measures continue to be implemented to protect patients and staff and everyone who visits our facilities should be respectful of all our staff who dedicate themselves to caring for others and saving lives. Please remember there is a zero tolerance policy in place across all Trust facilities, with respect to verbal and physical abuse towards any member of staff.

    The guidance will be kept under constant review and revised as appropriate.

     


    24/02/2021: Update on Mobile Breast Screening Unit

    The Western Trust Mobile Breast Screening Unit will begin scheduled appointments at the Lakeland forum, Enniskillen, from the week beginning 8 March 2021.

    The Western Trust has two Mobile Breast Screening Units which operate on a rotational basis across the Western Trust geographic area. The Mobile Breast Screening Unit now returns to Enniskillen, having been in operation at the Dunne’s Stores site in Omagh since 20 July 2020. There was an initial pause in the service from March 2020 to 20 July 2020, as part of a regional response to the Covid-19 pandemic, before the previously scheduled move of the mobile unit from Enniskillen to Omagh took place.

    The service will operate extended appointment times to facilitate enhanced infection control and social distancing measures as a consequence of Covid-19. As part of the screening programme the Western Trust will work in partnership with Action Cancer who will operate a second screening unit at the Forum site.

    Ladies aged from 50-70 from the following GP practices will be called as part of the NHS Breast Screening Programme:

    • Brookeborough Practice
    • Dr Toal & Maguire Practice
    • Erne Health Centre

    As part of the screening programme the Western Trust will work in partnership with Action Cancer who will operate a second screening unit at the Forum site.

    Ladies over the age of 70 can still make an appointment to attend for breast screening every 3 years and any woman in this category can call the breast Unit on 028 7161 1443 to make an appointment.

    Marietta Connor, Lead Mammographer at the Western Trust said: “We would encourage ladies to attend their screening appointment when called and to inform the unit if they are unable to attend so that others may avail of that appointment.

    “Whilst we endeavour to offer appointments as close to clients as possible, we need to use all available capacity to ensure that ladies receive appointments on time.

    “If you or a loved one has any concerns or symptoms then you should contact your GP to seek advice immediately. If required your GP will make a referral to the Breast Assessment Unit at Altnagelvin Hospital, Londonderry for a full breast symptoms assessment.”

    Marietta added: “Thank you to Fermanagh and Omagh District Council for kindly allowing both screening units to be situated at the Lakeland Forum and to Dunnes Stores, Omagh for facilitating our location throughout the last few months.”


    18/02/2021: Vaccination programme expanded to carers (50-64) and those with underlying health conditions

    The COVID-19 vaccination programme has been expanded to now include unpaid carers aged 50 to 64 and an increase to the list of people highlighted with underlying health conditions.

    The vaccine rollout is being delivered by the Western Health and Social Care Trust through three regional vaccination centres located at Omagh Leisure Centre, Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen and Foyle Arena in Derry/Londonderry and to date has seen over 45,000 vaccines delivered. This is being carried out as part of a collaborative programme involving the Western Trust, Councils, Multi-Agency groups and GP Practices.

    This latest expansion of the programme sees the start of a major vaccination to include unpaid carers who are aged 50-64 and are the main carer of an elderly or disabled person, whose welfare may be at risk if you as carer fall ill.

    Those carers who meet the age criteria can now book their place by visiting the online booking portal https://covid-19.hscni.net/get-vaccinated/; or by calling the regional booking line on 0300 200 7813 from Monday to Friday from 8.30am to 5.30pm.

    Those within the Western Trust area can also call the local booking line on 028 7161 0753.


    03/02/2021: Western Trust Chief Executive announces retirement

    Please note that Western Trust Chief Executive, Dr Anne Kilgallen, has today announced her plan to retire this summer.

    Dr Kilgallen has today released the following statement and video message to Trust staff and this statement will be issued at 3.30pm today to the media.

    I want you to know that I plan to retire this summer and having just celebrated my sixtieth birthday I know that the time is right to do so.

    My retirement may still be some months away but I felt it important to maintain openness in how we as an organisation communicate. We will soon commence a process to recruit my successor and I have no doubt that someone very good will take up the reins into the future. I will brief you further on this when I have more detail.

    I feel privileged to have had the opportunity to lead and work with you as your Chief Executive since 2017. While we have endured unprecedented challenges together in recent times, it has also been inspiring to see such amazing commitment and ingenuity shine through from all parts of our Trust

    This period has also further enabled us to develop differently, working more closely than ever across our directorates and teams, and in doing so I believe that we have progressed for the better as an Organisation.

    Today, however, what matters to me is that you know that I will continue to lead and support you with all my energy; that together we will continue to focus on our patients and clients and their families, strong in our resolve to always deliver the best care we can and with compassion.

    Thank you and stay safe!

    Dr Anne Kilgallen

    Chief Executive

     


    02/02/2020: Update on Vaccine Programme Rollout

    The Northern Ireland vaccination programme began on 8 December 2020 and focused on care home residents and staff. In addition health and social care staff in direct contact with vulnerable patients were also offered vaccination. Within a number of weeks, the programme was extended to the wider health and social care community sector. The GP led element of the vaccination programme commenced on 4 January, starting with those aged 80 years and over.

    Building on the success to date, a twin track approach has been initiated – with both GP practices and the regional vaccination centres vaccinating members of the public from prioritised groups. With the focus firmly on protecting those most at risk from the virus, this expansion of the programme covers everyone aged 65 and over and those who are clinically extremely vulnerable (CEV) to Covid-19.

    As GPs focus on the 70 plus age group, as well as a large proportion of those who are CEV, the vaccination centres will in parallel offer vaccination appointments to 65-69 year-olds and a small number of CEV patients who regularly attend hospital. This is crucial but complex and labour-intensive work, taking into consideration the clinical needs of each individual patient.

    The vaccination programme will take time to ensure it is implemented safely and all plans are subject to the availability of vaccine supplies from manufacturers – and may therefore be subject to change due to circumstances beyond our control. Based on the vaccine that should be available throughout February however, we are confident we will see rapid progress through the first 5 priority groups.

  • January 2021

    28/01/2020: Vaccination slots go online for 65-69-year-olds

    People aged 65-69 can now book their Covid-19 vaccination appointments at one of NI’s seven regional vaccination centres:

    ·         The Western Trust are now offering appointments at our 3 vaccination centres in Foyle Arena, Lakeland Forum and Omagh Leisure Centre.

    The online booking is available at covid-19.hscni.net

    The Department of Health this week announced a twin track approach to accelerating NI’s vaccination programme – ensuring more people can take up the offer of vaccination and help protect themselves against Covid-19.

    GPs will be focusing on the 70 plus age group, while the seven regional vaccination centres will in parallel be offering offer vaccination appointments to 65-69 year-olds.


    22/01/2021: Updated Position on Red Flag Surgery/Treatment

    Geraldine McKay, Director of Acute Services at the Western Trust said: “On Monday 18th January 2021, the Trust had to take the very difficult decision to postpone all red flag surgery/treatments.

    “This decision was taken as part of the regional arrangement to manage our capacity to treat both respiratory dependent patients and critical care patients. The Trust agreed to move our critical care capacity (ICU) from 12 to 16 beds at Altnagelvin Hospital and from 6 to 8 beds in South West Acute Hospital.  In order to do so we had to redeploy staff from theatres. These staff have training and experience that makes them best suited for redeployment to ICU.

    “The impact of this was that we could not provide the necessary theatre staff to accommodate the red flag cancer cases going to theatre this week (w/c 18th January).”

    Geraldine continued: “The Trust remains under extreme pressure, and whilst very challenging, from Monday 25th January we are in a position to reschedule a number of the patients who had their red flag cancer surgeries/procedures cancelled over the past week. We will continue to review this decision regularly in line with the ongoing pressures due to Covid-19 in our Hospitals and particularly in our ICUs.”

    “We would like to again sincerely apologise to our patients, their families and carers affected by their surgery/treatment being postponed.”


    18/01/2021: Altnagelvin Emergency Department Extension Now Operational

    A significant modular extension to Altnagelvin Hospital’s Emergency Department is now operational providing a new 50 seater waiting area and a new minors unit.

    In the first surge of the pandemic all HSC Trusts needed to create separate COVID-19 and Non-COVID pathways through their Emergency Departments. In Altnagelvin Hospital, a system of separating COVID-19 and Non-COVID flows for patients attending was introduced, along with social distancing measures in waiting areas. This resulted in considerable challenges at times of highest attendance creating over-crowding problems at the Emergency Department.

    The case was made to undertake a significant modular extension to the ED footprint facilitating the new COVID-19 patient flow and a Business case (£1.5M) was rapidly prepared and approved to provide an interim solution to support the service. The first two phases were fast tracked and now complete with the opening of the new modular extension.

    Geraldine McKay, Director of Acute Services in the Western Trust said: “We are delighted to open the new extension to our Emergency Department at Altnagelvin to assist not only with the safe flow of patients but also to create more space for our ED staff.

    “It has been well documented that our existing Emergency Department, which opened in 1985 and was designed for a maximum of 35,000 to 40,000 annual attendances is no longer adequate to deal with the 70-80,000 annual attendances currently or to provide a safe working environment for our staff

    “The segregated COVID and Non-COVID pathways, coupled with the predicted annual 5% growth in patient numbers has been temporarily addressed by this new modular extension until the strategic new build proposals under Phase 5.2a at Altnagelvin are approved and progressed on site.

    Geraldine continued: “In addition to the new modular building, the contractor will now move into the existing waiting area and refurbish this to provide more clinical space, storage and a dedicated ambulance drop off zone. It is hoped that the Phase 3 of this work will be completed in March 2021.

    “I would like to thank our patients and staff for their patience and support throughout the ongoing works that are taking place.”

    Dr Brendan Lavery, Lead Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Altnagelvin Hospital said: “This new modular building has created additional space and the reconfiguration of the Emergency Department necessary to implement COVID and Non-COVID pathways in order to enhance safety of both staff and patients.

    “The Emergency Department is the key component part of a whole system approach to managing emergency and unscheduled care. Having the right environment is essential to facilitating effective patient flow, allowing emergency and unscheduled care services to operate as part of an integrated health system.”


    18/01/2021: Postponement of Red Flag Cancer Surgeries

    Western Trust Apologise for the Postponement of Red Flag Cancer Surgeries

    The Western Trust has taken the very difficult but necessary decision to postpone all red flag cancer surgery/treatments from Monday 18 January 2021.

    We would like to sincerely apologise to our patients, their families and carers for this difficult decision to postpone these treatments and surgery at this time.

    All affected patients are being contacted directly.

    As the region continues to see a rise in the number of patients admitted to our hospitals with Covid-19, our staff will be required to support the care of the increasing number of Covid-19 patients who may require intensive care or enhanced respiratory support over the coming weeks.

    This was an incredibly difficult decision to make. We do not underestimate the anxiety and distress this causes the patients and families affected and we deeply regret this. We would like to reassure those patients that we will do everything in our power to reschedule their operation as soon as possible.

    The Trust will continue to provide emergency, trauma and some time-critical procedures.

    The decision to postpone all red flag cancer surgery will be closely monitored and reviewed regularly.

    Geraldine McKay, Director of Acute Services for the Western Trust


    18/01/2021: Phone First for Emergency Departments rolls out Trust Wide on 25 January

    A new ‘Phone First’ service is being rolled out to cover the Western Trust’s Altnagelvin and South West Acute Hospital’s Emergency Departments (EDs) and the Urgent Care and Treatment Unit in Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex Hospital, with effect from 08:00 am on Monday 25th January 2021 and will run from 08:00am to 12 Midnight 7 days per week.

    Speaking about the new service, Director of Acute Services at the Western Trust, Geraldine McKay said: “The ‘Phone First’ service, aims to ensure that patients can get direct access to the right care, avoiding busy waiting rooms and staying safe.”

    “The service is designed for patients, including children, who are feeling unwell and considering travelling to an ED or Minor Injuries Unit with an injury or illness which requires urgent treatment but is not immediately life threatening.

    “When you call the ‘Phone First’ service your condition, or that of the person you are calling on behalf of, will be clinically assessed and arrangements made for you to access the most appropriate service to your needs.  At present units in the Western Trust are only offering booked appointments for minor injuries in adults. You may receive telephone advice on minor illness via the phone first service or be directed to see your General Practitioner or to attend ED.

    The Western Trust ‘Phone First’ service will operate from 08:00am to 12midnight, seven days a week using the following contact options:

    • The ‘Phone First’ number to ring is 030 0020 6000
    • The ‘Phone First’ text relay number is 087 0240 5152

    For all emergencies that are life threatening always call 999 immediately. This can include: Stroke, heart attack, loss of consciousness, breathing difficulties, severe bleeding or major trauma.

    It is important to note that Emergency Departments will always be a safe place for patients, and if they attend an ED without ringing first, they will not be turned away.  If their condition is not life threatening they may have to wait longer or be signposted to another service.

    Head of General Medical Services at the Health and Social Care Board, Dr Margaret O’Brien, explained why the roll out of the Phone First service was so important.

    Dr O’Brien said: “With the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic in our community, it is more important than ever that patients who need emergency treatment aren’t asked to wait in crowded waiting rooms where they may be exposed to the virus.

    The ‘Phone First’ service aims to keep our over stretched EDs for emergencies, whilst ensuring rapid access, assessment and treatment on a 24/7 basis for patients who need urgent care.”

    Dr Ciaran Mullan, GP Associate Medical Director at the Western Health and Social Care Trust said: “The rollout of the Phone First service will improve patient safety in terms of preventing overcrowding and reducing long waits in our EDs and Minor Injuries Service. It will also help reduce the risk of Covid-19 infection and transmission.

    “We need your help at this extremely difficult time and I encourage patients to please ‘Phone First’ if your condition is not life threatening. However, if it is an emergency, if the situation is critical or life threatening then please always ring 999 immediately.”

    “No one working in an Emergency Department wants to see overcrowded waiting rooms full of sick and injured people many of whom could be treated elsewhere in a more appropriate setting.  That is particularly true right at this minute when everyone is so aware of the need to maintain infection control standards.”

    Background

    In August the Minister of Health approved the establishment of an interim ‘No More Silos Network’ to produce detailed proposals for the reform of Urgent and Emergency Care,

    On 16th October 2020, the Department of Health published its COVID-19 Urgent & Emergency Care Action Plan – ‘No More Silos’.  View the plan in detail on the Department’s website

    The ‘No More Silos Action’ Plan sets out 10 key actions to ensure that urgent and emergency care services across primary and secondary care can be maintained and improved in an environment that is safe for patients and for staff, both now and into the future.

    Five local implementation groups have also been established, made up of leaders across both primary and secondary care, to design and develop plans, tailored to their communities, to implement the key actions at a local level.

    ‘Phone First’ is one of 10 recommendations as a result of the review.

    A list of Frequently Asked Questions for the ‘Phone First’ service


    14/01/2021: Chemotherapy and Radiotherapy services continue to be provided

    The Western Trust can confirm chemotherapy and radiotherapy services are continuing to be provided at present.

    Every effort has been made to protect staff working within cancer services from redeployment to ensure service continuity.

    It is the Trusts intention to continue the delivery of radiotherapy and chemotherapy services indefinitely throughout the ongoing pandemic. However, this situation will require a review on a regular basis to ensure that sufficient resources remain available for the provision of safe and effective care for our patient cohort.

    The Trust remain committed to the continued engagement with regional colleagues: Department of Health Social Services & Public Safety (DHSSPS), Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) and Northern Ireland Cancer Network (NICaN) to support regional planning and associated service delivery for cancer patients across Northern Ireland.


    14/01/2021: Temporary suspension of all visiting to Western Trust Hospitals and Facilities

    Dr. Bob Brown

    Video of Dr. Bob Brown, Executive Director of Nursing, Primary Care and Older People’s Services on Western Trust new Visiting Policy.

    Due to the very high levels of COVID-19 transmission across our community, the four UK Chief Medical Officers have advised that we now move into Alert level 5, which requires the strictest of social distancing given the threat that health and social care services could become overwhelmed and therefore impacts on visiting to all care settings across Northern Ireland.

    Subsequently the Western Health and Social Care Trust have assessed all elements of risk and in order to protect patients, visitors and staff, the decision has been made to temporarily suspend visiting on all sites and facilities within the Western Trust. This suspension will now apply from midnight on Thursday 14 January 2021.

    While we recognise that restriction to visiting is a very emotive and difficult issue, often causing distress for families, patients and residents, it is essential that these updated visiting restrictions are effectively applied to help bring the transmission of COVID-19 under control.

    There will again be certain exceptional circumstances which have been highlighted and which will continue to apply – see diagram below.

    If you are permitted to visit Hospital or a Care Facility under any of the special circumstances above you MUST wear a face covering, thoroughly wash your hands or use sanitiser when entering and exiting that facility.

    PLEASE DO NOT visit if you are feeling unwell, especially if you have a high temperature or new persistent cough or have a sudden loss of taste or smell.

    Children are not permitted to visit.

    The Trust acknowledges that this is a very difficult time for the public and we ask you to work with us and appeal to patients and visitors to respect our staff and the guidance they give you at all times. The Trust operates a ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy and we will not accept any form of abuse towards our staff.

    Virtual Visiting

    You can also continue to arrange a ‘virtual visit’ with your relative or friend on a smartphone or tablet. Our hospitals have access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient. Our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care.

    We are very sorry to have to move to this position of suspending visiting to all our hospitals and facilities as we understand how important this is for people, but we must immediately apply this in the best interest of the health and safety for everyone until such time as the transmission of COVID-19 reduces.

    The guidance will be kept under constant review and we will update you when the position changes.

    Further information on visiting any Western Trust hospital or Facility

    Exceptional circumstances included as part of the temporary suspension of visiting to Western Trust facilities is listed in the diagram below: Visiting Guidance 14.1.21

    14/01/2021: COVID-19 Vaccination Western Trust Programme Update

    The COVID-19 Vaccination programme commenced in the Trust on 14 December 2020 with the Care Home Programme for care home residents and staff.

    The Trust Staff Vaccination Programme commenced on 21 December 2020 in 2 Mass Vaccination Centres:

    • Lakeland Forum in Enniskillen and
    • Foyle Arena, Limavady Road, Derry/Londonderry.
    • Omagh Leisure Centre was used later that week.

    Initially the vaccine was available to staff who were classified in the JCVI priority groups –this included staff from the COVID Pathway, Clinically Extremely Vulnerable staff, BAME staff and GPs and staff who work in the COVID Centres. We also vaccinated some NI Ambulance Service staff in December too.

    From 4 January 2021 the programme has been open for all Trust and Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) staff and we have moved to deliver vaccination clinics 7 days per week.

    The Trust is using the Pfizer vaccine in both the Care Home and Staff Vaccination Programme.

    This is a summary of the activity to date (up to Monday 11 January 2020):

    Care Home Activity at 10 January 2021

      No. of Care Homes Care Home Residents Vaccinated Care Home Staff Vaccinated Total Vaccinations
     

    Total

     

    64

     

    2166

     

    2263

     

    4429

     

    Staff Vaccination Programme at 10 January 2021

     

    Staff Vaccinated to Date

     

    9392

     

     

    Further Roll Out of the Vaccination Programme

    From Monday 11 January:                

    • Independent Sector Domiciliary Care Staff (approx. 4,097 vaccinations)

    From Monday 18 January:

    • Community Pharmacy/Dentistry/Opticians (approx. 825 vaccinations)
    • Funeral Directors
    • Regional HSC organisations (approx. 349 vaccinations)
    • Foster Carers
    • Community and independent sector – supported living, Action Mental Health, Praxis, Apex, North West Independent Hospital, AHPs
    • NIAS drivers

     

    The Trust has also been asked to vaccinate the long stay hospital in-patients and this is currently being scoped and planned.

    The on line booking platform went live on Wednesday 6 January 2021. Prior to that the Trust were dependent on a team of up to 16 call handlers who had difficulties keeping up with the volume of callers.

    Other key points of note:

    • On 31 December 2020, the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and 4 Nations Chief Medical Officers issued guidance that the 2nd dose of vaccine should be given at 10 weeks after the first dose rather than 3 weeks. The Trust has now implemented this revised position. Updated further detailed information on this was issued to Public Representatives on Friday 8 January 2020 – Click Here

     

    • On Tuesday 12 January the Academy of Medical Royal Colleges supported the change of policy

     

    • On Monday 4 January 2021, the GP led programme commenced with roll-out to over 80s of our population, using the AstraZeneca vaccine. It is anticipated that this programme will continue through the various phases of population until the programme is complete.

     

    • To note, update from HSCB:
      • All individuals aged 80 years and over will be invited to receive a COVID-19 vaccine via their local GP. This doesn’t apply to care home residents who have been offered the vaccine via Trust mobile teams.  The GP element of the programme started in a small number of practices across N Ireland on the week commencing Monday 4 January but all Practices are expected to be implementing this during w/c 11 January.  Special arrangements (similar to those that exist for the annual seasonal flu programme) will be put in place for any house bound patients who are unable to attend their GP Practice to receive the vaccine.
      • GPs will work their way down through the age cohorts as more vaccine is delivered into NI and distributed to GPs. Based on the vaccine delivery schedule it is envisaged that those aged 80 years and over will be vaccinated in January 2021 and the next cohort to be offered the vaccine will be those aged 75 to 79 years of age.

     

    • The Trust will be given some access to AstraZeneca vaccine to have a specialist clinic for the small number of staff with allergies that meant they could not have the Pfizer vaccine.

     

    The programme is very labour intensive and we are keen to complete the programme as quickly as possible to protect our staff and other HSC workers and to be able to return staff to their day jobs.  We have been very fortunate in having a number of retired nurses, doctors and administrators join the vaccination team and this will give the programme sustainability.  We are very grateful for their generosity in joining us to help in this extensive programme.

    I wish to commend Trust staff who have worked around the clock to put this programme together and implement the operational plan.  They have worked through Christmas, New Year and have shown levels of commitment that no amount of thanks can do justice to.  I have also had great support from my Director colleagues to get the teams of support staff identified to help, it has been a huge collective effort.

    Ann McConnell
    Director of Human Resources
    Lead Director on the Western Trust Covid-19 Vaccination Programme


    13/01/2021: Vaccination programme published

    The Department of Health has today published the phased plan for NI’s Covid-19 vaccination programme.

    The Northern Ireland model for vaccine deployment has been designed to be pragmatic, agile and flexible.

    As has been repeatedly emphasised, the rate of progress will be dependent on the availability of vaccines, supplied as part of UK-wide arrangements.

    The deployment plans involve a mixture of delivery models which include:

    • large fixed regional vaccination sites run by HSC Trusts,
    • mobile Trust teams to visit care homes,
    • Primary Care based model.

    The vaccines are received via Public Health England before being stored in a distribution hub. From there, the vaccine is delivered, as required, to Trust pharmacy sites or a GP practice. It is also intended that community pharmacy will be involved as the programme continues to be rolled out, subject to the availability of sufficient supplies of a suitable vaccine.

    The implementation of the vaccination programme will continue to closely follow the prioritisation list recommended by JCVI.

    The COVID-19 Vaccination programme Phased Plan is available to access on the Department’s website


    11/01/2021: Vaccination programme latest

    The Department would like to thank everyone involved with the vaccination programme for all their hard work to date.

    This is a massive and long-term logistical undertaking that is progressing well. Our record to date compares very favourably with many of our European neighbours. There is, of course, much more work to be done and the programme will be scaled up rapidly as more vaccines become available.

    The latest figures show that overall 91,954 vaccines have been deployed in NI.

    • 68,664 have had a first dose (HSC staff and care home residents and staff)
    • 13,949 have received a second dose (mainly care homes where 55% of care homes have now had 2nd doses)
    • 9,341 already vaccinated by GPs

    It is important to stress that there are different strands of the vaccination programme.

    * Our HSC Trusts are running seven regional vaccination centres, providing the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine to health and social care staff and to care homes via mobile teams.

    From today, domiciliary care workers from the independent sector can receive the Covid-19 vaccine at the vaccination centres. The phased programme will see dental, pharmacy and optometry teams being given access to the booking system shortly.

    There has been some misunderstanding about “empty slots” in the booking schedule for these vaccination centres. These slots are only released shortly before they are available in order to be able to manage the inclusion of different staff groups on a phased basis and also to ensure there is adequate vaccine to cover all the slots. Slots can be filled at short notice if required.

    There is no doubt that demand remains strong for the vaccine and this will continue to be met in a planned and phased manner. It is a constant process to manage the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine, which comes in large batches, in order to avoid unnecessary waste of this valuable product. It is normal to move sessions around to maximise the use of the vaccine – so staff will usually be contacted to confirm their sessions. Flexibility is essential.

    * Alongside the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 regional vaccination centres, GPs are administering the Oxford/Astra Zeneca vaccine to the general public. GPs across NI have received their first supplies, with those aged 80 plus first in line for their jab. This will be extended across the community, as supplies allow, with age and other clinical vulnerability factors determining the priority list.

    We will all have to be patient as we await our turn. Please be assured that staff are working extremely hard to vaccinate as many people as possible as quickly as possible, as supplies permit.

    There will inevitably be frustrations along the way but everyone is urged to not take out these frustrations through ill-informed and unfair criticism of the work staff are doing.


    10/01/2021: Joint Statement by the Chief Executives of Northern Ireland’s six Health & Social Care Trusts

    “In early December 2020 we issued what we described at the time as ‘a stark warning’ about huge pressures across the health and social care system in Northern Ireland.

    “At that time we stressed that several of Northern Ireland’s acute hospitals were already operating beyond capacity. Within days, the pressure that the system was under was evident through the images shown across media outlets of multiple ambulances queuing outside Emergency Departments. We also highlighted that there was a very real risk that hospitals could be overwhelmed in the event of a further COVID-19 spike in January.

    “Although different parts of the country are in different stages of the third COVID-19 surge, and individual hospitals are reflecting this, the situation is very serious with modelling projections indicating that in the third week in January we will be trying to contend with double the number of COVID positive patients compared to the current position today, when several hospitals already have record numbers of patients.

    “This is not a simple matter of putting up more beds. We need the staff to care for the increased number of patients. Pre-existing staffing pressures and staff absence because of COVID, and other reasons, mean that those staff simply aren’t there.

    “Already several Trusts are having to stand down all but the most urgent elective surgery, including some red-flag cancer surgery, to redeploy staff to meet the urgent and immediate needs of extremely ill patients, especially both COVID and non-COVID patients needing ICU care. These postponed operations will be rescheduled as soon as possible. We have established a regional approach to ensure that any available theatre capacity across Northern Ireland is allocated for those patients most in need of surgery, both during surge and as we come out of this surge. This may mean that patients will need to travel further for their surgery. Cancer services are seeking to maintain chemotherapy, radiotherapy and other non-surgical treatments and alternative treatments will be provided in the absence of surgical options.

    “We know that we speak for all health and social care staff in assuring the public that we will do everything that we possibly can to deal with the situation that is unfolding. Our staff, although exhausted, will once more go above and beyond to do the best they can for as many people as possible, and we thank them for it. It will definitely not be easy and the care that we are able to provide will at times fall short of the high standards we normally deliver but we will do our very best. Desperately ill patients whether COVID or non-COVID will always be the ones being prioritised.

    “No-one should be attending an Emergency Department at any time unless they need emergency care. It is likely that those who do attend will wait longer to be seen and for admission to hospital if that is what they require. Patients arriving by ambulance will also wait at times, sometimes for many hours before space is available in an already over-stretched ED. This has a direct impact on the ability of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service to respond, in a timely manner, to life threatening emergencies in the community.

    “Patients also need to leave hospital as soon as they are medically fit to leave. We will work tirelessly to ensure that this happens. That might mean accepting a placement where it is available and it might also mean families having to go the extra mile to provide temporary support for relatives. But we will need every bed that we have for those that are most in need.

    “Pressure in one part of the health and social care system inevitably impacts on the other parts. For example, we might once again need families to be willing to fill unavoidable gaps in domiciliary care.

    “Never has the phrase ‘all in it together’ been so pertinent and just so important. The COVID-19 vaccines provide the long-term hope and the current lockdown offers the opportunity to shorten the duration of the current surge. The public can play their part too by staying at home, practising social distancing and good hand hygiene and wearing face coverings.

    “We thank you in advance for your assistance.”


    08/01/2021: Briefing on rescheduling of second doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine

    The Department of Health have issued a detailed briefing on the rescheduling of second doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine.

    The rescheduling of second doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19 vaccine will bring faster protection to greater numbers of people most at risk from the virus – including more health care workers. This will prevent more severe disease, hospitalisation and deaths, and reduce pressures on our health service.

    The detailed rationale for this UK-wide decision was spelt out in documents published in late December 2020.

    Statement from the UK Chief Medical Officers on the prioritisation of first doses of COVID-19 vaccines

    Statement from the UK Chief Medical Officers on the prioritisation of first doses of COVID-19 vaccines

    HSS (MD) 94/2020 –A Letter to the Profession from The UK Chief Medical Officers, regarding the UK Covid-19 Vaccination Programmes

    Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation: advice on priority groups for COVID-19 vaccination, 30 December 2020

    The decision is based on the expert advice of the independent Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI).

    The Chief Medical Officers for NI, Scotland, Wales and England agree with the JCVI that prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible will protect the greatest number of at risk people in the shortest possible time and will have the greatest impact on reducing mortality, severe disease and hospitalisations and in protecting the health service.

    JCVI advice has been developed based on:

    • a review of UK epidemiological data on the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic so far;
    • data on demographic and clinical risk factors for mortality and hospitalisation from COVID-19;
    • data on occupational exposure;
    • a review on inequalities associated with COVID-19;
    • Phase 1, 2 and 3 data on the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine and the AstraZeneca vaccine, and Phase 1 and 2 data on other developmental COVID-19 vaccines;
    • mathematical modelling on the potential impact of different vaccination programmes.

    In their joint letter to health service colleagues in NI and across the UK, the four CMOs stated: “Halving the number vaccinated over the next 2-3 months because of giving two vaccines in quick succession rather than with a delay of 12 weeks does not provide optimal public health impact.”

    A detailed roll-out of the Covid-19 vaccines in NI is scheduled. More details of this programme will be provided next week.

    Progress of our vaccination programme will inevitably depend on the rate of manufacture and supply, as part of UK-wide arrangements.

    Supplies are continuing to arrive, with more scheduled for later this month. As the Health Minister stated in the Assembly on 6/1/2021, there will inevitably be some frustrations during this programme.

    He also stated: “We do not have enough supplies to vaccinate everyone right now. Supplies will inevitably come in batches. And that means we have to prioritise. In that we will be guided by the Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation.

    “Prioritisation will inevitably create tensions. I have been pressed by some Members to move different workforces and sectors up the list.

    “Let me make clear again, I will continue to take my lead from the JCVI. In the coming weeks, the primary focus will remain on protecting those members of our community most at risk of serious illness and death from the virus. I don’t see how anyone could argue against that.”

    The BMA in NI has registered its opposition to the UK-wide decision on the rescheduling of second doses of the Pfizer/BioNTech Covid-19. This opposition was conveyed to the Health Minister in a meeting on 5 January 2021.

    To be clear, the BMA’s request at that meeting was for those who have already had their first dose of this vaccine to receive their second within three weeks.

    The Minister and Department fully understand the concerns the rescheduling has caused to these colleagues.

    Nevertheless, the rescheduling in line with JCVI guidance will mean that more health and social care colleagues and more vulnerable citizens will get the protection of the first dose more quickly and authorised by the MHRA.

    Given the current progression of the pandemic – and the particular threat posed by the new variant detected in the UK and Republic of Ireland  – this change in approach is required.

    Care home residents and staff in NI will get their second doses within the original three-week period. This recognises the particular logistical and infection prevention challenges associated with care homes and the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine. NI has led the way in the UK with care home vaccination.

    NI’s health and social care system should be proud of its progress to date on Covid-19 vaccination. Everyone can be assured that the programme will be scaled up significantly and rapidly when more vaccines become available and everyone will receive their second dose to complete their course within 12 weeks.

    There will inevitably be challenges and frustrations in the weeks and months ahead. We will all have to be patient as we await our turn in the schedule – a schedule that will be based on age and other clinical vulnerability factors, as guided by the JCVI advice.

    As the Minister told MLAs, everyone in positions of influence has a responsibility to ensure public comments are fully informed and are asked to choose their words carefully on any frustrations that arise. Rash commentary or conclusions must not be allowed to damage public confidence in vaccination.

    Health and social care services and staff in NI are facing an incredibly difficult January and February. Society is facing another incredibly difficult lockdown. Vaccination is our route map to better times. We all must now act to protect those most at risk, including healthcare workers, and to protect our health service.


    07/01/2021: COVID-19 UPDATE – Postponement of Surgeries

    The Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust), alongside all Health and Social Care Trusts in Northern Ireland, is facing unprecedented pressures due to the escalating rate of infection of COVID-19 and the subsequent increasing numbers of COVID-19 positive patients in our Hospitals.

    The Trust is already at a peak in terms of COVID-19 patient numbers and projections are indicating that from the third week of January 2021, that number could be set to ‘double’. In addition, the South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen, is already currently operating at 118% bed capacity.

    “The number of COVID-19 inpatients is again increasing at both Altnagelvin Hospital and the South West Acute Hospital. We expect these numbers to steadily increase throughout January and possibly into February. This is putting extreme pressure on the hospital system, including our workforce and is causing us great concern.

    “This is not a simple matter of putting up more beds. Beds require staff to care for patients and pre-existing staffing pressures and with a current staff absence of 11%, and increasing daily, means that those staff simply aren’t there.

    “We have therefore taken the very regrettable, but necessary decision to announce as of today that routine elective inpatient, outpatient and day case surgeries will be postponed until further notice. Red flag and some time-critical procedures and clinics will continue, but will be reviewed daily.

    “However, we are under no illusion that if the number of COVID positive patients continue to increase at the rates predicted the Trust will have no option but to move to perform emergency and trauma surgery only (this will NOT include cancer/red-flag surgery) in order to safeguard the capacity needed within our hospital to continue the fight against COVID-19.  Staff will be redeployed to areas where they are needed the most and they will continue to be supported throughout.

    “The Western Trust is currently in the process of contacting all affected patients directly.

    “No-one should be attending an Emergency Department at any time unless they require emergency care.

    “Patients will also need to leave hospital as soon as they are medically fit to leave. This may mean that patients/families accepting a placement where it is available and it might also mean families and carers having to provide temporary support for their relatives.”

    “Every single member of our staff across our hospital and community settings are yet again rising to the extreme challenges of this third surge and we again thank them for their tremendous efforts. However, our thanks is not enough. We are all in this together and we need every single member of the public to play their role in reducing infections rates and the pressures on our health and Social Care System. Please follow the lockdown guidance and STAY AT HOME.”

    Geraldine McKay, Director of Acute Hospitals


    01/01/2021: Guidance on rollout of Covid-19 vaccine

    The Department of Health has published guidance for health and social care staff in relation to the Covid-19 vaccination programme.

    Updated guidance has been issued by the Joint Committee on vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) and follows the announcement that the Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccine has been granted approval by the Medicines and Healthcare products Regulatory Agency (MHRA).

    Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride said: “Northern Ireland has currently 50,000 Oxford/AstraZeneca vaccines which will begin rolling out to GP Practices from Monday 4 January. The GP programme will run alongside the ongoing vaccination programme and will prioritise those over 80 initially but will quickly work down through the priority groups recommended for vaccination by JCVI.”

    JCVI have now recommended that as many people on the JCVI priority list as possible should be offered a first vaccine dose as the initial priority.

    Dr McBride said: “The four UK Chief Medical Officers agree with JCVI that prioritising the first doses of vaccine for as many people as possible will deliver the greatest benefit in the shortest possible time.

    “First and foremost we must act to protect those most as risk of severe disease and death.  The evidence shows that the initial dose of vaccine offers as much as 70% protection against the effects of the virus.  Providing that level of protection on a large scale will have the greatest impact on reducing mortality and hospitalisations, protecting the Health and Social Care system.  It is the right thing to do for the public health.

    “Everyone will of course receive their second dose to complete the course within the recommended timescale.  We can all be assured by the level of protection that is available following the first dose and that the second dose will prolong the period of immunity.  Within days to weeks, those vaccinated are much less likely to get severe illness.  What we don’t know yet is whether they are at less risk of carrying the virus asymptomatically and passing it on to others.  It is therefore really important that everyone who is vaccinated continues to follow the advice on social distancing, respiratory and hand hygiene and all the steps we know work in controlling infection and protecting others.”

    Concluding, Dr McBride commended all those involved in the rollout of the vaccination programme.  He said: “I am delighted by the response by GP Practices who are keen to begin the vaccination programme and I wish them all well as they begin the rollout.  Members of the public will be invited to receive the vaccine by their GP, there is therefore no need for them to contact their Practice.”

  • December 2020

    14/12/2020: Update on Valley Nursing Home

    The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) has taken enforcement action to deregister Health Care Ireland as the registered provider of Valley Care Home in Clogher, with effect from 6 January 2021. This is due to serious concerns about the quality of care provided at the home and the environment for residents.

    The Trust had been already working to identify alternative suitable accommodation for all of the Western Trust residents given the increasing likelihood that the operational delivery of services in the home would cease.

    As of 5pm on 10 December 2020, 11 residents remained within the home of which two are Western Trust clients. Key Workers will continue undertaking regular visits in the coming weeks to monitor the remaining residents care and continue to discuss alternative accommodation with them and their families. We have already written to all residents and families to assure them that they may remain in the home over the Christmas and New Year period, if it is their choice to do so.

    Representatives from the Patient Client Council (PCC) have been making themselves available to provide independent advice and support to residents and their families if they wish to avail of this.

    The continued well-being of those residents will be our priority over the coming days and weeks and we will continue to ensure that there is clear, regular communication with those residents who remain in the Valley Nursing Home and their families to address any concerns which they may have.

    Dr Bob Brown

    Executive Director of Nursing, Primary Care and Older Peoples Services


    09/12/2020: Management of Red Flag, Urgent and Planned Patients who refuse offers of Imaging due to Covid Fears

    During the first surge of Covid-19 in March 2020, there was a regional temporary suspension of Routine Imaging across N.Ireland.

    Since then, Radiology Service staff throughout the Western Trust have been working to recover the previous waiting list position and, in conjunction with our partners across Health and Social Care regionally, continue to deliver on working programmes during the second surge of this pandemic.

    Radiology throughput has not returned to pre-Covid-19 levels and reasons for this include: increased cleaning of equipment and rooms post procedure, less seating in our waiting areas as we adhere to essential social distancing and Covid-19 safe measures and also as we deal with impact to staffing levels as a consequence of self or family isolating related to Covid-19.

    Dealing with backlog of Imaging Requests:

     All Trusts in N Ireland have now secured additional funding to deal with the backlog of imaging requests due to Covid-19.

    • As part of the programme to deal with this, Western Trust staff are working additional sessions
    • Additionally the Trust is working with Alliance Medical, in Ballykelly, utilising any available Independent Sector Capacity.

    While there have been difficulties in a number of areas in this programme, one particular area which is proving difficult to recover is MRI scanning across the Trust.

    MRI Scanning in the Western Trust

    Previously the Trust endeavoured to deliver care as close to the patient’s home address as possible. However, in light of the aforementioned issues the Trust must now (temporarily) adopt a position where it may be necessary to ask some patients to travel to access MRI scanning.

    This will involve, when necessary, requesting some patients from the Derry/L’Derry, Strabane and Limavady  council areas to make use of the scanning capacity in Ballykelly and some patients from the Fermanagh and Omagh Council area accessing scanning capacity on the Altnagelvin site. Again, we emphasise this as a temporary arrangement to avoid long waits for patients referred for imaging and, most importantly, the associate risks with delays in diagnosis.

    MRI Radiography is a specialist skill area in Imaging. University graduates throughout the UK are not trained at undergraduate level to enter the MRI Workforce. This requires in-house training and is supplemented by a Postgraduate Qualification which takes approximately 1 -2 years.

    Importance of early diagnostic tests

    The Trust would ask for Public Representatives support in encouraging patients to avail of the earliest opportunity to have their diagnostic tests completed. As already stated, this remains equally crucially important during the possible temporary arrangements where patients may be asked to travel further than may have been the case previously.

    As an assurance to all patients, we have introduced many safeguards to ensure our Radiology departments across the Trust are safe for our patients to attend during the current pandemic including social distancing in our waiting rooms, additional cleaning, evening sessions and also pre-appointment Covid-19 symptom checks.

    Non-attendance at MRI Imaging Scan

    In line with recently agreed N. Ireland Regional Procedure, patients who refuse to attend due to Covid-19 fears will have their Imaging request returned to the referrer for further discussion. Where patients are unwilling to travel and have been given a choice of 2 appointments which they are unwilling to avail off, it may be necessary to return requests to the referrer in line with Regional Integrated Elective Access Policy guidance, or patients will move down the waiting list. The exceptions to this would include elderly, infirm, patients with disability, etc.

    Positive move for additional MRI Scanning capacity at South West Acute Hospital

    The Trust has been planning for additional MRI scanning capacity on the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) site, including provision of a 7 day MRI service on this site. The recent appointment of two additional MRI Radiographers plus 2 additional assistant staff will further enhance the resilience of the MRI team on site but it should be noted that it will be a number of months before the Radiographers are available to join the team.

    Having also secured investment for a second CT scanner at SWAH, this is another positive step for the Hospital.



    08/12/2020: Early deployment plans confirmed for Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine

    The Department of Health has set out its plans for the early deployment of the Pfizer/BioNTech vaccine in Northern Ireland.

    The initial phase of the roll-out of the vaccination programme began today. The programme represents an unprecedented logistical exercise that will take many months to complete.  Progress will depend on available supply across the UK and is dependent on production and delivery schedules. The timescale for the approval of further vaccines will be an important factor in the wider roll-out of the programme.

    The process of determining clinical prioritisation is being closely guided by Joint Committee on Vaccination and Immunisation (JCVI) advice.

    Early deployment in Northern Ireland has three central aims:

    • To protect vulnerable patients and residents at higher risk of severe disease and mortality.
    • To protect staff working in high risk areas for exposure
    • To protect staff members at highest personal risk of morbidity and mortality.

    The exact timing of all plans will be subject to vaccine availability.

    The focus in the coming weeks will therefore include care home residents and staff (including supported living centres where the clinical risk is considered to be similar to a care home); health and social care staff working with patient groups at higher risk (including embedded support staff); staff working in higher risk settings; staff who are themselves at increased personal risk due to being in extremely vulnerable high risk categories or having other defined clinical risk factors.

    In advance of the GP element of the programme starting, active consideration is being given to options for extending the programme to begin vaccinating over 80s in the community.

    A Departmental letter setting out the early deployment framework for the vaccine has been issued to Trusts.

    Seven Trust vaccination centres are being established for the staff vaccination process. The locations are:

    • Belfast Trust – Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast
    • South Eastern Trust – Ulster Hospital, Dundonald
    • Southern Trust – South Lake Leisure Centre, Craigavon
    • Northern Trust – Seven Towers Leisure Centre, Ballymena
    • Western Trust  –
      • Foyle Arena, Londonderry,
      • Omagh Leisure Centre, Omagh; and
      • The Lakeland Forum, Enniskillen.

    Mobile vaccination teams operating from Trust centres will take the vaccine to residents and staff in care homes across Northern Ireland.

    Trust staff are working closely with care homes to ensure that arrangements are as safe and effective as possible.

    HSC Trusts will inform their staff who are in the early deployment groups and encourage them to book their vaccinations through a digital booking platform.

    Anyone who is pregnant or breast feeding, or who is planning to get pregnant in the next three months, is not advised to get the vaccine.

    The full roll-out of the vaccine is scheduled to continue until the summer of 2021. Further population groups will be added to the programme on a phased basis, with priority given to age and other clinical vulnerability factors.

    Subject to the availability of a suitable vaccine, it is intended from early January 2021 to expand roll-out of the programme through primary care led vaccination clinics.



    08/12/2020: Update on rollout of the Covid-19 Vaccination Programme

    Ann McConnell, Director of HR and Trust Lead for the COVID-19 Vaccine, provided an update today to Western Trust staff on the COVID-19 Vaccination programme.

    Ann said: “Today is an historic day for all of us. The COVID-19 Vaccine rollout has begun in Northern Ireland with the vaccinators being the first to receive the vaccine”

    “From next week (week commencing Monday 14 December) the Western Trust will a have dual rollout of the vaccine. The first group will be care home residents and their staff. Teams of vaccinators will go to the care homes across the Trust area and vaccinate care home residents and staff with the first dose of the vaccine. The second dose (delivered 21 days later) will be delivered to this group during January 2021.

    “All staff will be offered the vaccine in phase one of the rollout programme. We will offer the vaccine as it becomes available to us, with some staff being offered the vaccine next week. They will receive instructions on how to book onto the clinics. At this stage we believe that the clinics will commence on 16 December 2020. We will be targeting staff based in JCVI information, which is on the basis of those staff that are working with patients in the highest risk group.”

    Ann further speaks about staff who won’t be able to take the vaccine immediately, such as staff that are pregnant or breastfeeding.  Staff who have received a different vaccine within a previous seven day timeframe or staff who have tested positive for COVID-19 within the previous 28 days.

    Ann adds “This vaccine gives us hope that we are coming towards the end  of this pandemic and each and everyone of us have played our part in managing the crisis. People have been heroic in their efforts to keep patients safe, to attend to their work and to keep their colleagues safe. We need you to continue with this work as this vaccine is rollout.  Please continue with your efforts and hopefully 2021 will be a better year for all of us.”

    Click on the PDF Link below for a letter from Dr Michael McBride, Chief Medical Officer Northern Ireland, regarding the deployment of the COVID-19 Vaccine in Northern Ireland.

    Click Here to Download

    We will be posting messages, images and videos in respect of the Covid-19 Vaccine on our Western Trust Digital Media Channels and would encourage sharing of these to your constituents also in the weeks and months ahead.


    03/12/2020: North Wing Opening, Altnagelvin

    The Trust is pleased to announce that the new North Wing building at Altnagelvin Hospital is now complete and handed over to the Trust. The North Wing facility will provide the hospital with six new 24 bed inpatient ward areas and a new main entrance. All six ward areas are now operational and work is ongoing to ensure the new main entrance to the hospital will be operational for Monday 7th December 2020.

    From Monday 7th December 2020 the old entrance area will no longer be accessible and clear directions will be in place to assist with the transition to the new main entrance area.

    Bus stops for the hospital site have also been relocated as part of these works and Translink signage and timetable information has been updated accordingly. The location of both bus stops is shown below together with a list of bus routes served by each stop.

    From Monday 7th December, the existing entrance area of the hospital will close for redevelopment. Services relocated to the new main entrance are listed at the end of this email.

    There will be no change to existing telephone extension numbers as these will transfer with the services. Any exceptions will be highlighted separately.

    The North Wing project team would like to thank all staff for their immense support and patience during the construction of this important development.

     

    Bus Stops Image and Routes for each Stop

    Bus Stops, Altnagelvin
    Bus Stop 1 Routes – All City Centre

    • 2a,2b
    • 4a,4c
    • 5a

    Bus Stop 2 Routes

    •  2a,2b Kilfennan
    • 4a,4c Curryneirin/Ardground
    • 5a Gobnascale
    • 14a/b Tullyally/ Springtown

     

    List of services relocating to New Main Entrance Area

    Ground Floor of North Wing Main Entrance

    • Hospital Help Desk
    • Switchboard
    • Volunteers Service
    • Café
    • Shop
    • Vending Area
    • Public Toilets
    • Infant Feed Room
    • Domestic Team Leaders

    First Floor of North Wing Main Entrance

    • Admissions Service
    • Cash Office
    • Access to Healthcare Office

    Second Floor of North Wing Main Entrance

    • Facilities Management Team including site and car park management

    01/12/2020: Update on Surgical Services, South West Acute Hospital

    The Western Trust has been working collaboratively with the Department of Health, HSCB and other Trusts, to explore ways of maximising the fantastic facilities available at South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen.

    Initially the Trust highlighted and offered regionally that some elective in-patient surgery capacity is available in Enniskillen and the Belfast Trust has acted to utilise this space for some surgical lists and time-critical treatments. To date the specialties which have been activated include gynaecology and general surgery and the Trust will continue to support the region as we work together to further develop other specialties and priority work.

    Chief Executive of the Western Trust, Dr Anne Kilgallen, said “We welcome the Health Minister’s comments regarding South West Acute Hospital this week. This initial phase of regional collaborative working in respect of elective in-patient surgery at South West Acute Hospital has very much highlighted the excellent facilities and opportunities which are available here. This development work will continue and other specialties will be explored as we maximise the excellent state of the art Hospital facilities in Enniskillen.”

    “The Minister’s comments that “the implementation of what will be elective surgery lists in the SWAH is a further enhancement and something that makes it attractive for people to work there as well as giving them the opportunity to live there” is also timely. The Western Trust is very much a ‘Great Place To Work’ and through our surgical workforce recruitment in recent weeks we are delighted to have now offered posts to successful candidates for the three permanent consultant surgeon vacancies.”


    Valley Care Home – Frequently Asked Questions

    Is Valley Care Home closing?

    On 4 November 2020, the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) issued a ‘Notice of Proposal’ to cancel the registration of the Care Provider in The Valley Care Home.

    This Notice means that the RQIA is not satisfied that the Care Provider is able to provide the right care to residents to meet and sustain the necessary standards of care required.

    The Care Provider has the right to represent their case to RQIA until 2 December 2020 on any matter it wishes to dispute before a final decision is made about the future of the care home.

    What is RQIA and what do they do?

    RQIA is Northern Ireland’s health and social care regulator.  It inspects every care home in Northern Ireland.  Where a service fails to meet relevant standards, RQIA can take enforcement action requiring the service to address the concerns identified.

    Where RQIA considers that this is having a very serious impact on the health and welfare of people using the service, and the management of the service has not demonstrated an ability to address its concerns, RQIA can deregister a service – effectively closing it.

    Do residents and their families know what is happening? 

    Yes. Since the Notice of Proposal was issued by RQIA on 4 November 2020, staff from the Southern and Western Health and Social Care Trusts have been visiting the Home regularly to monitor the care of residents and provide reassurance about any concerns they may have.

    A letter has also been sent to residents and their families to let them know what is currently happening about their care and the future of the home.

    The Care Provider is also liaising directly with residents and their families about the latest developments.

    How many residents live in Valley Care Home?

    There were 53 residents living in Valley Care Home on the 4 November 2020.

    Since the Notice of Proposal to cancel the registration of the home was issued by RQIA, both the Southern and Western HSC Trusts staff have had daily contact and frequent presence in the care home and have supported residents and their families in their personal choice to move to alternative and suitable accommodation given the uncertainty about the future of the Valley Care Home.

    As of 27 November 2020, 42 residents live in the Valley Care Home.

    A number residents and their families are currently considering transferring to alternative accommodation in the coming weeks, Trusts will offer support to them in their decision making.

    When will a decision be made about the future of the Home?

    It is hard to be exact about timescales at present.  On 4 November 2020, RQIA issued a ‘Notice of Proposal’ to cancel the registration of the Care Provider registered to operate Valley Care Home.

    The Care Provider has the right to represent their care to RQIA until 2 December on any matter it wishes to dispute before a final decision is made about the future of the care home.

    When will this be resolved? 

    RQIA, the Health and Social Care Trusts and the Health and Social Care Board are working hard to try and resolve this as quickly as possible.

    The continued safety and well-being of those who live in the Valley Care Home is our priority.  We recognise that this is a very unsettling time for those that live at the Valley Care Home and we will continue to work with them and their families over the coming weeks until a definitive decision about the future of the home is made.

    We have regional and local coordination plans in place to manage this process.

    Both the Southern and Western Trusts are working to address two immediate issues. Firstly they are looking to support the Care Provider to address any immediate risk issues and secondly, to work with residents and their families to update care plans for each resident in the event that the Home does in fact close in the future.

    We will endeavour to ensure that residents and their families are kept up to date with developments regarding the future of the care home and their care as often as is required and to answer any questions they may have.

    Do residents need to leave the home now or look for another home to live in?

    The Trusts and RQIA undertook a joint visit to The Valley Care Home on 10 November 2020 and noted that there were no new or additional risks identified since the original RQIA Inspection on 21 October 2020.

    At this moment there is no immediate need to intervene to move residents. If it is decided that the Home is unable to remain open, Key Workers from local Health and Social Care Trust will explain this to residents and their families and work with them to explore other care options.

    Can residents move to a new care home now if they want to?

    Yes. Both the Southern and Western HSC Trusts staff have had daily contact and frequent presence in the care home and have supported residents and their families in their personal choice to move to alternative and suitable accommodation given the uncertainty about the future of the Valley Care Home.

    Each resident has a key worker from their Health and Social Care Trust who will support them and their families to find another care home that best meets their needs if it is their wish to do so.

    Will residents have to pay more if they move to another care home?

    No.

    Who will help residents and families through this process?

    Each resident’s key worker from their local Health and Social Care Trust is their first point of contact for them and their family.

    Each Trust also provides independent advocacy to support residents and their families through this difficult time.

    The Health and Social Care Board has also asked the Patient Client Council to offer independent advocacy support to all residents and their families during this difficult period.

    What happens if residents don’t want to leave?

    If the Care Home remains open residents will be able to stay.  However, if the decision is that the Home can no longer provide the appropriate care to meet residents’ needs and requirements, then options will be discussed with them to find an alternative suitable home that best meets their individual needs.

    What will happen to the staff at the home?

    Staff working in the home should talk to their employer and be talking to their staff side representatives about the different options that may be open to them in the event that the home closes.

    Are RQIA inspection reports available to the public?

    Yes.  RQIA regularly inspect Care Homes every year and publish these reports on their website. Previous inspection reports for The Valley Care Home can be found here.

     

    The findings of RQIA’s 21 October 2020 inspection will be published in late December 2020.  Details of RQIA’s current enforcement action are available here.

    Download the Frequently Asked Questions Document Here

  • November 2020

    20/11/2020: Update Briefing to MLA/MPs

    Please note the presentation given to MLAs and MPs in the Western Trust Area at briefings on Friday 20 November 2020.

    Click Here to view


    11/11/2020: Update Thackeray Place Care Home

    A number of our clients and staff have tested positive for COVID-19 at Thackeray Place Care Home.

    The Trust is taking all the necessary infection prevention and control measures to protect our clients and staff and the Department of Health and Public Health Agency have been informed of the situation.


    05/11/2020: Car Parking Update at Hospital sites

    Health Minister Robin Swann announced last week that Trusts should put in place with immediate effect, the provision of free car parking to HSC staff until 31 March 2021.

    Staff are already aware the Western Trust does not charge staff for parking and over 70% of car parking on the Altnagelvin, Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex (OHPCC) and South West Acute hospital, Enniskillen (SWAH) sites is free of charge.

    Since September the Trust provided additional free car parking spaces to staff in the Multi-storey car parks in both SWAH and Altnagelvin, which we will continue to do.

    Utilisation of spaces on all sites is well down due to the increase in numbers of staff working from home, virtual clinics for Outpatient appointments and restrictions on visiting.  This means that staff should have no difficulties finding a free space on our sites.

    The Trust will continue with the current provision of car parking on all sites which involves paid parking in place for patients and visitors only.  Should a staff member find themselves in a paid space this will be validated free of charge.  The exception to this would be paid spaces at our ED’s in both SWAH and Altnagelvin plus the Pay and Display at Southwing, Altnagelvin where these would be required for patients and those accompanying them or waiting to be called in i.e. for birthing partners who need to be close by.

  • October 2020

    29/10/2020: Update on Oxygen Supplies at Altnagelvin Hospital

    Western Trust would like to reassure patients that oxygen supplies to Altnagelvin are secure. Indeed, the supply at present has a green status.

    Our head of estate management has rightly highlighted the recent scale of demand for oxygen given Covid infection and hospital admission levels.

    He also warned of the escalating pressures should the exponential growth in cases continue unchecked. As highlighted yesterday, that growth has been significantly checked in the Derry and Strabane council area.

    As part of its surge planning, the NI health service has mitigation measures in place should oxygen supplies to individual hospitals become an issue. These include the provision of additional portable canister supplies and, if required, the centralisation of care in the regional Nightingale hospital at the City Hospital.

    Vital work is ongoing across the Health and Social Care system to ensure services are not overwhelmed by the present Covid surge.

    The public has a vital and central role to play in that regard – by doing everything they can to stop the virus spreading.


    28/10/2020: ICU Altnagelvin Surge Planning Latest Position

    Updated position re: Altnagelvin Hospital

    • Number of COVID-19 +ve patients: 69
    • Number of  COVID-19 +ve deaths (in previous 24 hours): 3
    • COVID-19 +ve in ICU: 9

    There are as standard, as shown in the DoH Dashboard on Monday 26 October 2020, 10 Critical Care beds in Altnagelvin ICU.

    However, as part of a robust Critical Care Surge plan, beds are increased in line with need.

    Altnagelvin Hospital moved into ‘Low Critical Care Surge’ at 9 patients, with 12 Critical Care beds available as from Monday 26 October 2020.

    As numbers requiring Critical Care beds increase, the Trust increases capacity as per our Critical Care surge plan as follows:

    • ‘Medium Critical Care Surge’ will have an increase to 15 Critical Care beds.
    • ‘High Critical Care Surge’ will have an increase to 18 Critical Care beds.

    It is important to note that critical care beds are managed by CCaNNi, the regional Critical Care Network, and capacity in the system is reviewed regularly as required.

    Western Trust Director of Acute Services, Geraldine McKay, sits on this Critical Care Board, with other Acute Directors in the region and meet regularly to ensure contingencies are in place to deal with each level of surge.


    28/10/2020 Latest COVID-19 Acute Hospital Position update

    As of today (28 October 2020):

    Altnagelvin Hospital has 69 COVID-19 positive patients and 9 in ICU.

    South West Acute Hospital has 19 COVID-19 positive patients and 1 in ICU.


    28/10/20: Altnagelvin Hospital Switchboard

    The Western Health and Social Care Trust has had to implement its Business Continuity Plan for Altnagelvin Hospital Switchboard due to a number of staff having to self-isolate as a precautionary measure.

    This is a particularly busy period, with a high volume of calls.

    We apologise for any delay the public may experience in getting through to switchboard and we thank them for their patience.


    26/10/2020: Presentation at MLA & MP Briefings on 23 October 2020

    Please see below the full presentation given to all MLAs and MPs in the Western Trust area on Friday 23 October 2020.

    CLICK HERE for PDF of Presentation


    23/10/20: Altnagelvin ED External Waiting Update

    Briefing: Altnagelvin ED external waiting

    (Briefing Friday 23 October 2020)

    Background: In the first surge of the pandemic all Trusts needed to create separate COVID-19 and Non-Covid pathways through the ED department, and in Altnagelvin ED a system of separating COVID-19 and Non-Covid flows of patients attending was introduced, along with social distancing measures which were introduced in waiting areas.

    This has resulted in considerable challenges at times of highest attendance, and when there are difficulties in flow from ED to admission wards, creating over-crowding problems at ED at these times.

    Measures taken: 

    Short term:  The Trust installed a temporary covered walkway in early October 20 given the inclement weather and report that people attending ED were at times required to wait before entering.  Outdoor heating is now being added to the covered shelter and other changes to this temporary shelter are being reviewed.  The attached photographs (ED4) show the temporary structure installed.

    The Trust additionally has made provision under its Business continuity measures to put emergency arrangements in place if required to allow for the erection of an temporary heated tented area for waiting (similar to an events tent), and this has been included in the hospital’s emergency response arrangements.

     Short/Medium Term:  The case was made to undertake a significant modular extension to the ED footprint.  This will facilitate the new COVID-19 patient flows a Business case (£1.5M) was rapidly prepared and approved to provide an interim solution to support the service.

    Early in the pandemic, as a result of the “lockdown”, the construction industry had largely closed down, and works schemes on Trust estate other than urgent reactive maintenance were paused at this time.  Despite this, the Trust sought DoH assistance to bring the Design teams back for this priority scheme, which enabled design and procurement to start in June 20.  This resulted in a contract award to Piperhill Construction Ltd at the start of August with the delivery of a Modular fast Track building agreed for December 20.  All efforts were made to maximise the speed of the project delivery with offsite manufacture of the building seen as the most efficient delivery method.

    The outline programme for the modular extension to ED is set out below, and a schematic is attached.

    • Phases 1 and 2 have been completed with Phase 2 handed over this week.  These works are external and realign existing roads to create space for the new extension.
    • Phase 3 is shown in yellow, which commences w/c 26 October 20.  This is the critical phase to installation of the modular building and is planned to complete on the 22nd December 2020. This modular installation will provide a new 50 seater waiting area and a new minors unit.
    • The staff will move into the new modular unit over the Christmas Holidays and in the New Year the modular unit will open and be accessed from the new front parking area – shown in pale blue.
    • The contractor will then move into the area shown as magenta (the existing waiting area) and refurbish this to provide more clinical space, storage and a dedicated ambulance drop off zone.  This will be complete at the beginning of March 2021.

    Long Term: Elected representatives are aware that the long term solution to significantly expand the ED footprint remains the intent of the Trust, and will be is delivered as part of the strategic Capital Development business case for Altnagelvin (Phase 5.2B).


    23/10/2020: Ward 31, General Surgery, Altnagelvin Hospital

    Two patients and two staff on Ward 31 at Altnagelvin Hospital have tested positive for COVID–19.

    All other patients and staff on Ward 31 have been tested and are awaiting results.

    The Trust is taking all the necessary infection prevention and control measures to protect our patients and staff and the Department of Health and Public Health Agency have been informed of the situation.


    21/10/2020: Update on Postponements of some Surgeries in Altnagelvin

    The Western Trust experienced a surge in COVID-19 patient attendance and admissions across the weekend of 16 -18 October 2020.  This required the Trust to postpone surgery for 14 patients who required overnight stays on  Monday 19 and Tuesday 20 October 2020.

    We are working with clinicians and surgeons to rebook these patients at the earliest opportunity.  Cancer surgery in Day Case theatres were not affected on these dates and Inpatient cancer surgery went ahead in the Trust today (21 October). We continue to monitor the situation on a daily basis.

    We sincerely apologise to any patient who had their surgery postponed and have been affected by this decision.


    19/10/2020 Update on Neonatal Services

    The Western Trust continues to be extremely challenged in many service areas due to absence and the impact of Covid-19, with a large number of staff currently self-isolating. This has in particular impacted Neo Natal Services in the Trust in both Altnagelvin and in South west Acute Hospital, and our teams continue to meet daily to ensure the safety of all patients in our care.

    At this time there are no plans to merge both units similar to what happened in the first surge of the pandemic.

    Plans are in place to address staffing challenges and a recruitment process is underway.

    All services across the Western Trust and across Northern Ireland continue to be monitored and reviewed on a daily basis and are being flexed up and down in line with staffing capacity and Covid-19 pressures.

    Deirdre Mahon,
    Director of Women and Children’s Services


    14/10/20 – Visiting to Altnagelvin Hospital Suspended Until Further Notice

    Due to the continuing rise in COVID-19 cases in the Derry City and Strabane District Council area, the Western Trust has taken the decision to suspend all visiting to Altnagelvin Hospital from today, Wednesday 14 October 2020, until further notice.

    Our priority is to safeguard and protect people who are receiving care and also to protect our staff.

    Visiting at our hospitals on the Gransha site, the South West Acute Hospital and Omagh Hospital and Primary Care complex remains unchanged at this time. The Trust will continue to review these arrangements in line with the prevalence of Covid-19 in the community.

    Visiting will only be permitted under very special circumstances at Altnagelvin Hospital. These circumstances include:

    • PAEDIATRICS/NEONATAL: Any babies/children being treated can be accompanied by one parent or carer at a time.
    • MATERNITY: One nominated partner may accompany a woman attending for the following scan appointments: Dating Scan, 19 week Anomaly Scan, and Fetal Medicine Scan. There are no visitors permitted in ante-natal or post-natal ward areas. A birthing partner can be present during active labour and up to 1 hour after birth.
    • PALLIATIVE (end of life) Care: One visitor to be permitted to visit – duration and timing of the visit must be agreed in advance with the Ward Sister or Charge Nurse.
    • Dementia & Learning Disability: Those patients with dementia or a learning disability who would benefit from having a loved one at their bedside, for a short period of time to be agreed with the Ward Sister or Charge Nurse.

    If you are permitted to visit under special circumstances you MUST wear a face covering, thoroughly wash your hands or use sanitiser when entering and exiting Altnagelvin Hospital.

    PLEASE DO NOT visit if you are feeling unwell, especially if you have a high temperature or new persistent cough or have a sudden loss of taste or smell.

    Children are not permitted to visit.

    The Trust acknowledges that this is a very difficult time for the public and we ask them to work with us to help minimise the spread of this virus. We would appeal to patients and visitors to respect our staff and the guidance they give you at all times. The Trust operates a ‘Zero Tolerance’ policy and we will not accept any form of abuse towards our staff.

    If you can, please arrange a ‘virtual visit’ with your relative or friend on a smartphone or tablet. Altnagelvin Hospital has access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient. Our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care.

    Emergency Department Guidance

    If you are attending our Emergency Department, please do so alone. Children under 16 receiving treatment can be accompanied by one parent for the duration of their care journey. Vulnerable or elderly adults with communications difficulties can also be accompanied by a family member or carer. This must be the same person for the duration of their journey within the Emergency Department.


    12/10/2020 – Short Break Provision in Derry/Londonderry

    The Trust’s Adult Learning Disability Service has been experiencing increased levels of Covid-19 related staff absence particularly in the Derry/Strabane areas. Two areas of particular challenge are the Trust provided Short Breaks (The Cottages) where 50% of staff are currently absent from work. Similarly the Trust provided Supported Living facility in Derry City-side, consisting of four houses and with a staffing compliment of 20, currently have 15 staff absent and are also managing Covid-19 positive service users in two of the houses.

    Efforts to secure adequate staffing levels from Bank and Agency have not yielded the required safe staffing levels. The Trust has made the decision to temporarily suspend the Learning Disability Short Break service with immediate effect. This decision has been made to ensure adequate and consistent staffing for the Supported Living on 24/7 prioritised areas. This re-prioritisation of services is in line with the Trust surge plan.

    This decision will be kept under review to ensure the minimum disruption and to enable the Short Break service recommence as soon as possible.


    12/10/2020 – Further Update On Greenhaw Lodge Care Centre

    The Trust and Larchwood Care Ltd will be moving this week to engage with residents and their families at Greenhaw Lodge around their options for decanting to alternative premises following the Justice of The Peace Order which was issued on 22 September 2020. The order stated:

    • That appropriate arrangements are made for all current residents of Greenhaw Lodge, to be re-accommodated to suitable accommodation forthwith and to remain in such accommodation until such times that remedial works are required in respect of the water supply; pipework; internal repairs and refurbishment are completed.
    • That no resident should be permitted to return to the home or admitted into the home until all the works are completed in full and without prior inspection by RQIA.

    Following the issuing of the order, the Trust asked the Health and Social Care Board to consider leading the response under the direction of the regional Care Homes Business Continuity Plan. This position was agreed on 25 September 2020.

    This process of engaging and discussing options with the residents and their families may take a number of weeks to complete, to ensure all options and individual care factors have been considered before re-locating to an alternative home. Therefore, all 40 residents will be temporarily relocated to suitable alternative accommodation over the coming weeks and for a number of months, given it is anticipated that the remedial work to be undertaken in Greenhaw, will not be completed until May 2020

    The Trust will risk assess each individual resident and arrange a placement that best meets their identified care needs. The Trust, along with the residents and their families and Greenhaw owners have identified a range of options for this relocation, and this may include:

    • Moving to an alternative care home within the Derry area
    • Moving to an alternative care home within the wider Western Trust area
    • Moving to an alternative care home within the Northern Ireland region
    • Moving a resident to an alternative care home, pending moving back to the care of their family with support from the Trust.

    Some of these options may include the possibility of Greenhaw staff moving to the new facility to provide care for an appropriate number of the residents. The Trust will continue to provide monitoring and care management support to the residents in their new location/s in addition to maintaining a daily presence in Greenhaw while residents continue to live there.

    The resident may then choose to remain in their new location or return to Greenhaw once the remedial works are completed.

    The meetings with families this week will be undertaken for each person on an individual basis. Arrangements will be put in place for residents and their families to be informed about their potential new location when discussing their options. Schedules for transfer to the new location and for visiting when they move there will be detailed for each family in their plan.

    It is intended by the ownership of the home that they will use this opportunity to upgrade the building for the benefit of all residents, should they choose to return.

    Our team will ensure that an individual plan is in place to ensure all residents are relocated in a safe way and that their families are kept informed at all times. We recognise the potential upset that this will have on the residents and their families and have therefore informed the Patient and Client Council and the Older People’s Commissioner of this position and have asked for their support during this transition.

    RQIA and the Western Trust will continue to closely monitor care standards in Greenhaw while their management team work to ensure the necessary improvements are undertaken to meet the Court Order. RQIA, Greenhaw Lodge Care Centre and the Western Trust will continue to work closely to ensure that the Improvement Plan in response to the original Failures to Comply Notices as well as the requirement for immediate environmental works is progressed and completed in as timely a fashion as possible.

    Regards

    Bob Brown
    Director of Primary Care and Older People, Executive Director of Nursing
    Western Health and Social Care Trust


    06/10/2020 Western Trust COVID-19 Surge & Winter Plans 20/21

    Following today’s announcement by the Health Minister of the new COVID-19 Surge Plans, the Western Trust have launched plans accordingly.

    The full Western Trust COVID-19 Surge and Winter Plans for 2020/21 can be found in the PDF link below:

    CLICK HERE for Western Trust Covid-19 Surge and Winter Plans


    06/10/2020 Minister announces new Covid-19 surge plan for Northern Ireland

    “Our health and social care system is already badly bruised and scarred by Covid. But it is picking itself up and is once again ready to care for us all despite the immense pressures on staff.”

    Those were the words of Health Minister Robin Swann as he launched a new Covid-19 Surge Planning Strategic Framework for Northern Ireland.

    The Minister announced the new Framework in a statement to the Assembly. Individual localised surge plans have also been published today by each Trust.

    Emphasising that each one of us has a role to play in protecting the health service, Mr Swann told the Assembly:

    “I urge everyone across the community to go that extra mile this winter by following the guidance on infection prevention and not to let our guard slip.”

    The Minister warned MLAs that the health and social care system is facing “a huge and daunting challenge” in what is expected to be the most challenging period in its history.

    “We must as a system try to rebuild services; manage the ongoing Covid-19 pandemic; embed innovation and transformation; address winter pressures and plan for the future – all at the same time.

    “We demonstrated during the first Covid-19 wave – and despite the limited time to prepare – that we are up to the challenge. It is due to the dedication of all our health and social care staff that anyone who has contracted this terrible virus has had access to the best possible care. I am determined that this will continue to be the case.”

    The Minister underlined his commitment to rebuild services affected by the first phase of the pandemic. A policy statement setting out important plans for rebuilding and stabilising cancer services will be published tomorrow.

    Mr Swann said “huge efforts” are under way on rebuilding health and social care services but these are likely to be impacted by the recent “deeply concerning” rise in Covid-19 cases.

    Plans to publish the next phase of Trust rebuilding plans this week have been paused in light of this sharp increase.

    The Minister said that “given the perilous and developing situation we now find ourselves in” there was no choice but to hold back the publication.

    “However let me reassure Members – just because the publication of the plans may be paused, that does not for one moment suggest the efforts of our clinicians to support patients have been paused. Even with the prevailing Covid situation I expect that the rebuilding effort will of course continue, as far as that is possible.”

    The new Surge Planning Framework highlights important learning from earlier months in the pandemic; sets out the approach to virus surveillance and modelling; reviews actions to minimize Covid-19 transmission and impact; summarises key regional initiatives to organise health and social care services to facilitate effective service delivery; highlights actions around the key issues of workforce, medicines and testing; and confirms a number of principles for Trusts to follow in their individual surge plans.

    Key initiatives detailed in the Framework include:

    * the establishment of a regional cancer reset cell to oversee the resumption of screening, diagnosis and treatment of cancer patients in clinically safe environments as quickly as possible, and to protect these services as much as possible in the event of further potential surges of Covid-19;

    * action to capture learning in relation to care homes to mitigate future transmission of the virus in those settings.

    * establishing dedicated centres for day case and orthopaedic procedures.

    * the continued availability of the critical care capacity at NI’s first Nightingale facility at Belfast City Hospital’s Tower Block. The additional ICU capacity at the City Hospital’s Nightingale facility will only be needed in the event of an extreme surge in demand for intensive care. The Tower Block will remain a protected site for cancer and other specialist surgery for as long possible.

    * the additional step down capacity at NI’s second Nightingale facility at Whiteabbey Hospital.

    In his statement to the Assembly, the Minister also paid tribute to the commitment and contribution of staff:

    “Our nurses, doctors, paramedics, other allied health professionals, pharmacists, care workers, primary care, other front line health and social care workers and carers have bravely and tirelessly put themselves at risk to save the lives of others.

    “Amongst them were also those who volunteered to return to work or temporarily leave training to provide much help and support.  I cannot thank our workers enough for that.  I know that I can rely upon continued commitment from all staff, as we begin the task of managing future Covid-19 waves.

    “Having said that, I appreciate that the efforts to date have taken their toll.  We must put staff welfare, along with patient safety, at the heart of our efforts to manage services.”


    01/10/2020 COVID-19 Update: Altnagelvin Hospital

    Western Trust Appeal to Public to Reduce the Spread of COVID-19

    The Western Trust is calling on the public for their support this week to help stop the spread of COVID-19 in the community, particularly in the Derry and Strabane District Council area.

    With the prevalence of COVID-19 continuing to increase at a rapid rate in the community, particularly in the Derry and Strabane Council area, we are asking the public for their help to reduce the spread of COVID-19. We would ask Public Representatives to support us in ensuring that this message is clear and readily available so that everyone understands the importance of adhering to the public health guidance so we can keep the most vulnerable and sick patients in our hospitals safe.

    The high number of positive cases within the local community has resulted in an increased number of COVID-19 admissions to Altnagelvin Hospital, particularly within the past week.  As a result we have had to rapidly implement our revised surge plan at Altnagelvin hospital. It has also been necessary to re-designate one of our ward areas to manage COVID-19 positive cases.

    Our Emergency Department at Altnagelvin Hospital has been particularly busy.  Whilst it remains open to all patients who are unwell and require medical assessment and treatment, patients are asked to consider alternative pathways to access health care including GP and Pharmacy. This is to ensure appropriate social distancing in our Emergency Department for patients who absolutely need to attend and to allow us to see and treat patients quickly.

    The public are asked to attend the Emergency Department alone, unless they require the assistance of one person. We would also remind the public not to attend our Emergency Department if they have symptoms of COVID-19. If people have symptoms of COVID and need to get tested, they should follow advice regarding accessing the National Testing Centres.  Our Emergency Department is not a testing centre.

    Visiting Restrictions:

    We previously announced revised Visiting restrictions on Friday 25 September and we would again appeal to the public to understand why this has had to be implemented, in line with the regional announcement by the health Minister, as a vital measure to safeguard and protect people who are receiving care and to protect in particular our frontline staff so that they are able to care for patients and families.

    As per the issued guidelines, these restrictions mean visiting limited to one identified person per patient, who may visit for no longer than one hour, once per week. The visiting weekly rota will apply from Monday until Sunday each week.

    We would also ask Public Representatives to remind the public that all measures being implemented are to protect patients and staff in these challenging times and everyone who visits our facilities should be respectful of all our staff who dedicate themselves to caring for others and saving lives.

    A reminder that full details of the restrictions, together with the limited exceptions, can be found here: https://westerntrust.hscni.net/western-trust-covid-19-information-updates/western-trust-covid19-visiting-guidance/

    Finally, we are asking the public to continue to follow public health advice; wear a mask, maintain social distancing and regularly wash your hands to keep both themselves and their loved ones safe. We are all in this together!

    COVID-19 Update – Altnagelvin Hospital

    The Trust has taken the difficult decision to temporarily suspend Elective Orthopaedic in-patient services at Altnagelvin Hospital from this week.  The service had restarted in a limited way in line with the Trust’s re-building services plan.  This decision was required in response to the increase in COVID-19 related admissions and in order to have adequate inpatient beds available for this expected surge.

    “We are facing challenges in maintaining our staffing levels.  With the continuing increase of COVID-19 in the community more and more staff are being asked to self-isolate. This decision to temporarily suspend elective orthopaedic services will be kept under review as we manage this pandemic.”

     “We would like to assure our patients that we are continuing to deliver red flag cancer and emergency surgery, alongside some face-to-face and virtual out-patient clinics. People should continue to attend where they have already booked appointments.”

     Geraldine McKay, Director of Acute Services

    Update on Ward 25 (Elective Orthopaedic Ward)

    Three members of Trust staff on Ward 25 at Altnagelvin Hospital have tested positive for COVID–19. In addition a total of 11 staff are currently self-isolating as a precautionary measure. Patients on Ward 25 have been tested and this has resulted in two positive cases. The Ward is subsequently closed to patient discharges and new admissions. The Trust is taking all the necessary infection prevention and control measures to protect our patients and staff and the Department of Health and Public Health Agency have been informed of the situation.


    01/10/2020 – Western Trust Apology to Corrigan Family

    Today, Thursday 1 October 2020 the Western Health and Social Care Trust has issued a public apology to the Corrigan Family on the untimely death of their son Davin in our Grangewood Hospital in November 2018.

    The Trust wish to offer our sincere apologies to the Corrigan Family for the failings identified by the Serious Adverse Incident review team, and to assure the family that we accept the findings of the report, and its recommendations in full.

    We would also wish to express our appreciation to the Corrigan Family for their cooperation and involvement throughout the SAI process.

    The Trust Serious Adverse Incident report following Davin’s untimely death concluded that his death in that way and at that time was preventable.

    Serious Adverse Incident Lessons Learned:
    • As identified in the SAI report, the Trusts systems for recording and scrutinising incidents of self-harm in our mental health facilities were not robust.
    • There was a delay in modifying the hospital environment to reduce risk which contributed to Davin’s untimely death.
    • There were failings to properly scrutinise Adverse Incident reports to identify themes and patterns of risk and to take decisive action to manage or mitigate the risk when it was identified.

    The Trust has implemented a number of recommendations following the Serious Adverse Incident report to include:

    • The Trust incident identification and reporting procedures have been changed and improved as a result.
    • Modifications to the hospital environment.
    • Improved governance arrangements.
    • Improved data capturing and analysis.
    • Significant progress in respect of incident management.
    • Frequency of supervision.
    • Review of safety plans.

    A copy of the apology can be found here.

  • September 2020

    25/09/2020 – Visiting to all Western Trust Hospitals and Care Facilities is restricted until further notice

    Following Wednesday’s announcement by the Health Minister on Visiting Guidance for Hospitals, Care Homes and other health facilities, the Western Trust will now move to implement visiting restrictions to all Hospitals and Care Facilities, with limited exceptions until further notice.

    As per the issued guidelines, these restrictions will see visiting limited to one identified person per patient, who may visit for no longer than one hour, once per week. The visiting weekly rota will apply from Monday until Sunday each week.

    At any given time it may also be required to suspend visiting specifically to a ward or area of our hospitals and such updates will be communicated and available on our dedicated COVID-19 Visiting Updates Online page here: bit.ly/WTCOVID19Updates

    These restrictions will apply from 5pm on Friday 25 September 2020 and is applicable to Altnagelvin Area Hospital, South West Acute Hospital and Omagh Hospital and Primary Care complex, as well as other Trust inpatient settings, such as Waterside Hospital, and including our facilities for people with mental health and learning difficulties.

    Our priority is to safeguard and protect people who are receiving care and to protect in particular our frontline staff so that they are able to care for patients and families. The Trust will continue to review these arrangements in line with the prevalence of Covid-19 in the community and as part of an ongoing regional Visiting Guidance review.

    Some exceptions do apply where visiting will only be permitted under very special circumstances, which include:

    • PAEDIATRICS/NEONATAL: Any babies/children being treated may be accompanied by one parent or carer at a time.
    • MATERNITY: One nominated partner may accompany a woman attending for the following scan appointments: Dating Scan, 19 week Anomaly Scan, and Fetal Medicine Scan. A birthing partner may be present during active labour and up to 1 hour after birth. Visits in antenatal and postnatal wards will be for one person, for up to one hour, once a week.
    • PALLIATIVE (end of life) Care: One visitor to be permitted to visit. Arrangements for visiting those who are receiving end of life or palliative care should be made with the Ward Sister or Charge Nurse.
    • Dementia and Learning Disabilities: Persons with dementia and/or a learning/sensory disability who would benefit from having a loved one at their bedside. Arrangements for such visits should also be made with the Ward Sister or Charge Nurse.

    If you are permitted to visit under the restricted or in such special circumstances you MUST wear a face covering at all times, thoroughly wash your hands and use sanitiser when entering and exiting any Western Trust facility, and follow social distancing guidance throughout our health and care settings. Please also ensure that you move swiftly to the single area that you intend to visit, without undertaking any mixing on corridors, and remain mindful of the importance of close adherence to social distancing in any shared space areas, such as a reception, ward entrance and bathroom facilities.

    With regard to visiting in care homes, we anticipate there will be a further regional communication on how best to facilitate safe and appropriate visiting to these settings across the Western Trust. We undertake briefings with care home managers and at the next one will work to ensure a common understanding and oversight of the regional guidance once this is available. While virtual visiting continues to be encouraged, along with in person visiting during exceptional circumstances such as at the end of life, we are very mindful of the importance of enabling visiting for people who are living with dementia or a disability that means they are negatively impacted from not seeing a loved one in their care home, and we anticipate that this will be included in the next regional communication.

    PLEASE DO NOT visit if you are feeling unwell, especially if you have a high temperature or new persistent cough or have a sudden loss of taste or smell. Anyone who is a close contact of a positive case or has travelled from a country not exempted from the safe travel corridor and have been advised to self-quarantine also MUST not visit. We will be recording and monitoring the names and contact details of all visitors to ensure compliance with this guidance is followed and to enable us to contact a family member should track and trace follow-up be necessary.

    Children (up to 16 years) are not permitted to visit until further notice (special circumstances will be dealt with on an individual basis and risk assessed).

    Visitors may not be permitted to Wards in certain circumstances and where this applies local guidance and information will be available at Ward level. Patients and relatives will be informed of the reasons for a “No Visiting approach”.

    During the COVID-19 Pandemic, the Western Trust has been working to put in place ‘Virtual Visiting’ in all our facilities, where relatives/friends can communicate via a smartphone or tablet. All Trust facilities have access to free Wi-Fi and our staff can help set this up. Please be patient as our staff will have to prioritise clinical work and patient care.

    Please remember that all measures being implemented are to protect patients and staff in these challenging times and everyone who visits our facilities should be respectful of all our staff who dedicate themselves to caring for others and saving lives. Please remember there is a zero tolerance policy in place across all Trust facilities, with respect to verbal and physical abuse towards any member of staff.

    For updated visiting guidance, including additional information, please read ‘Trust Facilities Visiting Guidance – Supporting Family Presence & Participation with patients and/or residents during COVID 19’. This guide and all future updates can be found on the Western Trust Website COVID-19 Updates page here: bit.ly/WTCOVID19Updates

     

    Western Health and Social Care Trust – Visiting Guidance Document 

    Western Health and Social Care Trust – Visiting Poster 


    24/09/2020 Update on Visiting Western Trust Hospitals and Care Facilities

    Update on Visiting Western Trust Hospitals and Care Facilities

    Please note the below release from the health Minister regarding visiting all Hospitals, Care Homes and Care facilities on 23 September. This is currently being reviewed by the Trust and we will provide an update on this soon.

    Visiting Guidance Issued for Hospitals and Care Homes

    All health and social care facilities in Northern Ireland should move to facilitate one face-to-face visit per week by one person, Health Minister Robin Swann has stated. The province-wide guidance applies to hospital and care homes as well as other facilities.

    It has been drawn up to protect patients, residents and staff from Covid-19 – while recognising the importance of human contact to health and well-being. Health Trusts and care homes will implement more localised and tighter restrictions in the event of outbreaks.

    The Minster said: “I fully recognise how difficult and upsetting it is for people in care homes and hospitals not to see their loved ones. The new guidance seeks to take a balanced approach – recognising the growing Covid-19 threat and the importance of family contacts. I don’t want to see doors being fully closed to visiting at this time – providing there is no outbreak in the facility.
    Please strictly follow all the public health guidance when visiting. Do not visit if you are feeling unwell yourself and make sure you wash your hands thoroughly before and after.”

    The visiting guidance will be kept under ongoing review.

    Every effort should continue to be made to enable other forms of visiting to ensure residents and patients maintain important social connections – eg through the use of technology.

    Additional advice on compassionate visits – for instance for those receiving end of life and palliative care – should be facilitated. These arrangements will have to be agreed in advance with the ward or care home.

    In Hospices, one visitor for one hour daily is recommended where the environment is Covid-19 secure.

    In maternity services – one partner will be able to accompany the pregnant woman to dating scan, anomaly scan, early pregnancy clinic, fetal medicine appointments and when the woman is in active labour (to be defined by midwife). Visits in antenatal and postnatal wards will be for one person for up to one hour once a week.

    In augmented care areas of burns, renal and cancer services, this should be permitted in Covid-19 secure environments. This means maintaining social distance of up to 2m, attending to hand hygiene and good respiratory hygiene, good ventilation and appropriate use of PPE and wearing face covering.

    Further specific provisions in areas like neonatal and paediatrics are detailed in the new visiting guidance document and supporting materials.

    Care homes are encouraged to develop the concept of care partners. Care partners will be more than a visitor. Care partners will have previously provided an essential element of maintaining their relative’s physical and mental health, and/or provided specific support and assistance to ensure that communication or other health and social care needs are met due to a pre-existing condition. Without this input a resident is likely to experience significant and/or continued distress.

    Care partners will need to be designated and agree to a number of measures, which may be specific to the individual care home and its visiting policy. There may be two designated care partners sharing this role, one at a time, across the week.


    24/09/2020 Update on Ward 40, Altnagelvin Hospital

    Update on Ward 40, Altnagelvin Hospital (this is a Care of the Elderly / Stroke Ward)

    Three members of staff on Ward 40 at Altnagelvin Hospital have tested positive for COVID-19 and 15 staff are currently off work and self-isolating as a precautionary measure.

    All 23 patients on Ward 40 have been tested and there are currently no positive cases on the ward.

    The Trust is taking all the necessary infection prevention and control measures to protect our patients and staff and the Department of Health and Public Health Agency have been informed of the situation.

     Dr Bob Brown, Director of Primary Care and Older People’s Care


    24/09/2020 Update on Greenhaw Lodge Care Centre

    The Trust has been notified of 4 failures to comply notices served by RQIA to Greenhaw Lodge and further to this of the Magistrate Court’s decision to approve the RQIA’s proposal around the transfer of all residents to a suitable alternative accommodation. This would be to allow Larchwood Care Ltd. to carry out the necessary environmental works to meet the standards required. All admissions to Greenhaw Lodge are currently suspended until further notice.

    The Trust understands that the residents and their families have been kept informed of these decisions by the management of the home and we will be working closely with the resident’s and families, Larchwood Care and RQIA (the regulatory authority) in response to the Court’s judgement and until the Care Home meets the required standards.

    An improvement plan to address the failures to comply notices has been put in place and all of the residents will continue to be individually risk assessed, and the standards of care monitored by the Trust, to ensure the care provided during the interim period and in the future meets their individual needs.

    The wellbeing and safety of the residents will always be of fundamental importance to the Trust and our first priority.

     Dr Bob Brown, Director of Primary Care and Older People’s Care

    Note: Enquiries directly for Greenhaw Lodge should be sent to: d.quee@navigatorblue.com/07415855100


    22/09/2020 – Greenfield Residential Home, Strabane

    A number of staff members from Greenfield Residential Home are currently off work and self-isolating as a precautionary measure. The Trust has therefore taken a decision to restrict visiting to the home and we have contacted and continue to update all families of the next steps. The health and safety of all residents, staff and visitors remains our priority.

    These restrictions are valid from Saturday 19th September 2020 for a minimum of two weeks at which point they will be reviewed and either extended or relaxed by the Manager.


    11/09/2020 – Flu vaccination programme extended – now more important than ever to get it

    The Public Health Agency (PHA) is urging everyone who falls into an eligible group to get the free flu vaccine.

    The calls comes as the agency launches this year’s flu vaccination programme, offering vaccines which are specially formulated to tackle the strains of the virus which are expected to be circulating this winter.

    The flu vaccine campaign has been expanded to help reduce the spread of flu and lower flu-related hospital admissions at a time when the health service is under strain as a result of COVID-19. It’ll also help reduce the risk of contracting flu and coronavirus at the same time.

    Dr David Irwin, Consultant in Health Protection at the PHA, said: “For most people flu is a very unpleasant illness, but in some cases and for those in ‘at risk’ groups it can be very dangerous and sometimes fatal. That is why we have a wide-ranging vaccination programme which helps protect groups at particular risk in our community.

    “Northern Ireland has secured extra vaccine this year so that household contacts of those who received shielding letters during the coronavirus pandemic can request vaccination via their GP.

    “Staff in independent care homes and schoolchildren in Year 8 – representing those who will be in the first year of secondary school from September 2020 – are also eligible for the free vaccine.”

    Health Minister Robin Swann said:”It is extremely important that we take all necessary measures to help reduce the risk of the flu circulating alongside COVID-19 during autumn and winter, to protect ourselves, our families and those we come into contact with.

    “Flu can present with similar symptoms to COVID-19 and therefore has the potential to complicate the vital work of the contact tracing and surveillance programme.

    “There is also emerging evidence that co-infection with COVID-19 and flu may lead to a more severe illness. Reducing the pressure caused by seasonal flu will help preserve the capacity of the health and social care system to manage any future waves of COVID-19.”

    GPs across Northern Ireland are offering flu vaccination to everyone over 65, pregnant women, carers at home, people under 65 with an underlying health condition, as in previous years. Contacts of those who were shielding can also get it at their GP.

    Pre-school children aged two years or over on 1 September 2020 can get the vaccine at their GP’s surgery, while primary school children and Year 8 pupils will be offered it at school by the school health service. The kids’ vaccine comes in the form of a quick, painless spray up the nose rather than an injection.

    The flu virus spreads through the air when people cough and sneeze without covering their nose and mouth. Because young children don’t always cover their noses or mouths, they can spread the flu virus very quickly, making them ‘super-spreaders’, so it is important that they avail of the vaccine to help protect them and those around them, including vulnerable members of their family and the wider community.

    Dr Irwin continued: “With a second surge of coronavirus likely during the winter months we cannot afford to be complacent about getting the flu vaccine this year.

    “Each year the strains of flu in circulation change, so new vaccines are formulated to reflect this. That is why it is so important that everyone who falls into an eligible category gets the vaccine annually – if you got it last year, it won’t cover you for this year’s flu season. Also, while it won’t protect you from COVID-19, it may stop people getting both illnesses and putting strain on health and social care services, not to mention reducing their risk to their own health.

    “It takes approximately two weeks following vaccination to develop maximum protection against flu. Everyone who is eligible should aim to have their vaccine early, according to their GP surgery’s arrangements, and before flu activity generally increases. If you wait until cases of flu are widespread, it may be too late for the vaccine to offer you any protection.”

    Everyone who is eligible for vaccination should make themselves aware of their own GP surgery’s flu vaccination arrangements particularly with extra measures in place to prevent the spread of COVID-19 this year such as restrictions on numbers who can meet in one place and social distancing. By working with surgeries’ schedules, people who are eligible to receive the vaccine can help ensure that it can be given to everyone in a timely manner.

    The PHA has also developed an animation which provides lots of information on the flu vaccine, including tips on how to reduce the spread of flu and flu-like illnesses and tackling flu myths. The video will be available through online channels and is available at www.pha.site/fluanimation .

    Dr Irwin concluded: “The flu vaccine does not give you the flu. It is offered as the best protection for ‘at risk’ groups because if they get flu, they are more likely to have severe illness and develop complications such as pneumonia, which can be life-threatening.

    “It’s free, it’s quick, and it could make a big difference to your health and the health of those close to you.

    “The message is clear – don’t take the risk; get the vaccine.”​


    09/09/2020 – Visitors to Ward 50 North West Cancer Centre during COVID

    The health and safety of patients, visitors and staff remains an absolute priority at the North West Cancer Centre (NWCC).

    With the continued threat of COVID19 in our community, the Western Trust has made the decision to stop all visiting to Ward 50. Exceptional circumstances should be discussed with the Ward Sister.

    This decision has been taken to help minimise the risk to our immunocompromised patients and will be kept under review. We thank you in advance for your help in protecting patients and the wider community at this time.


    02/09/2020 Update on the Neonatal Unit, Altnagelvin Hospital

    Following some enquiries regarding capacity in the Neonatal Unit, Altnagelvin, the Western Trust is commissioned for 18 cots in this unit: 3 Intensive Care (IC); 6 High Dependency (HD) and 9 Special Care (SC).

    However, in the past year there has been reduced availability of senior experienced staff due to staff shielding in response to Covid-19, increased pregnancy-related and maternity leave and also a number of retirements.

    Regionally there is a live database in operation, referred to as a ‘Cot Locator’, and this enables fluidity across the region to be managed in respect of availability.  The cot status in the Neonatal Unit is thus fluid and for the Neonatal Unit, Altnagelvin this is generally at 14 cots: 5 IC/HD and 9 SC whilst we have staffing challenges.

    Relocation of Neonatal Unit due to maintenance works

    Following recent routine water testing, the presence of pseudomonas was found in the main water tank of the South Wing. Essential maintenance works followed immediately and this included the main water tank and replacement of water pipes within the Neonatal Unit, requiring this clinical area to be  relocated to another clinical area within the hospital. Note this is a temporary relocation of the Neonatal Unit, Altnagelvin, on the ground floor Nucleus Corridor (previously C19/ACU) with a planned date for the re-opening of the unit now Monday 7 September 2020.

    As the temporary clinical area currently being used is smaller than the Neonatal Unit, there is presently a cot capacity in neonatal care for 9 babies. This reduction has in practice impacted on the availability of cots for babies requiring Special Care (SC).

    We will provide emergency care to all pregnant woman who present to the hospital in established labour and deliver prematurely. Where cots are available the baby/babies would be cared for in Altnagelvin NICU. However if the unit is at full capacity the baby/babies would be stabilised and transferred to another hospital within the region where there are neonatal cots available. This is in line with NNNI regional guidance and co-operation to ensure that mothers and babies receive the safest care possible.

    This may also result in the likelihood of some high risk mothers being transferred to other maternity units prior to delivery, if their baby is likely to require high dependency or intensive care.

    Note the above move is a temporary position and we anticipate that the unit will be reopened on 7 September 2020, once the maintenance works can be completed as planned, when we shall return to a capacity of 14 cots, staffing levels permitting.

    Situation on Sunday 30 August 2020

    As stated above, the Altnagelvin Neonatal Unit presently has a capacity of 9 cots and this includes 5 cots in Intensive Care (IC)/High Dependency (HD). On Sunday 30 August, following the overnight delivery of 2 premature babies, the unit was at capacity with 5 babies in High Dependency.

    As already stated, there is a neonatal network involving all the units here, designed specifically for this situation so that capacity is shared across the region.

    When a mother presented in labour on Sunday 30 August, for the safety of mother and babies, the mother was thus transferred to another Hospital  that had HD/IC cots in their Neonatal Unit.

    Note that for the safety of mothers and babies, the network prefers that mothers transfer to another unit rather than waiting for a baby to be born and then putting its safety at risk by transferring afterwards.

    Dr Anne Kilgallen
    Chief Executive

  • August 2020

    21/08/2020 Update on Rectory Field Care Home, RQIA Inspection

    Following an unannounced care inspection by The Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) at Rectory Field Care Home on 11 August 2020, the Western Health and Social Care Trust has been issued with 6 Failure to Comply Notices in respect of Rectory Field Care Home, 19B Limavady Rd, Derry/Londonderry.

    The Trust has taken immediate action where areas of improvement required were highlighted and are currently taking forward an action plan in order to implement any recommendations made as part of the report by the RQIA.

    Western Trust staff have acted promptly in relation to the issues raised as a result of the RQIA inspection which is reflective of the Trust’s willingness to learn from these experiences and address them, to ensure the provision of high quality safe services for patients in a clean environment.

    It is important that we learn from other organisations such as RQIA who assess our services. This helps us to continually improve what we do to help ensure we provide responsive care and support.

    Any announcement by RQIA can be found on their website at https://www.rqia.org.uk/inspections/enforcement-activity/current-enforcement-activity/


    21/08/2020 Neonatal Unit, Altnagelvin

    The Neonatal Unit, Altnagelvin will temporarily be relocated on the ground floor Nucleus Corridor (previously C19/ACU) from Friday 21st August 2020 until Tuesday 1st September 2020 to enable maintenance work to occur.

    We will accommodate emergency admissions within the hospital so if a pregnant woman were to present to the hospital in established labour and deliver prematurely, the baby would be cared for in Altnagelvin unless it was very premature and required to be transferred to the regional unit for specialist support.

    This is a temporary position and we anticipate that the unit will be reopened on 1 September 2020, once the maintenance works can be completed as planned.


    21/08/2020 Ante-Natal Clinic moving back to South West Acute Hospital

    The Ante Natal Clinic and Fetal Assessment unit for Fermanagh will be relocated to South West Acute hospital, in addition to the ongoing continued service in operation at Omagh Hospital and Primary care Complex, with effect from Monday 24 August 2020.

    While there will be some capital works ongoing in relation to a separate entrance to the Ante Natal Unit in South West Acute hospital, this will not affect service and it will be hoped that these works will be completed in September 2020.

    The Southern Sector of the Western Trust Maternity Department would like to advise that this is the updated contact numbers and times to access them should there be a particular query or concern relating to a woman’s pregnancy.

    Omagh Area Community Midwives:-

    • Community Midwife Landline & Maternal & Fetal assessment unit:- Monday-Friday 9am-5pm: 028 8283 3107 (Voicemail service also)
    • Omagh Area Community Midwife Bluetooth Mobile phone:- Monday-Sunday 9am-5pm 07764162051
    • Consultant Antenatal clinic Secretary:- Monday-Sunday 9am-5pm: 028 8283 3816 (voice mail service also)

    Enniskillen Area Community Midwives:-

    • Community Midwife Landline (General Queries):- Mon-Friday 9am-5pm: 028 66 382175 (voicemail service)
    • Enniskillen Community Midwife antenatal clinic appointments with Midwife:- Monday- Friday 9am-5pm: 028 66 382000 ext 255196(voicemail service)
    • Enniskillen Community Midwife Bluetooth Mobile phone:- Monday-Sunday 9am-5pm: 07901688374
    • Consultant Antenatal Clinic secretary:- Monday- Friday 9am-5pm: 02866 382770 (voicemail service)
    • Enniskillen Booking appointment antenatal secretary:- Monday-Thursday 9am-5pm (voicemail service also): 02866 382110
    • Lisnaskea areas community Midwife Landline:- Monday-Friday 9am-5pm (voicemail service also): 028677 24814
    • Lisnaskea areas community Bluetooth mobile phone:- Monday- Sunday 9am-5pm: 07764211542

    SWAH MATERNITY

    • SWAH Maternal Fetal Assessment Unit:- Monday to Sunday 24 hours daily: 028 66382140
    • SWAH in patients ward- 02866 382531
    • SWAH Delivery Suite:- 02866 382208
    • SWAH Early Pregnancy Unit:- Monday to Friday 9am-5pm 02866 382609 (voice mail service available also)

    20/08/2020 Car Parking Reset

    During the period since March 2020, the Trust changed its car park management and its charging arrangements to support staff and in recognition of the significantly reduced footfall for visitors and patients.

    Visiting has been reinstated and the Trust has been restarting or beginning to scale back up its hospital services since June 20.  In line with these planned changes, we will reset car parking services to support the changed demand for patient and visitor parking across our sites.

    The Car Parking Reset plan will see a return to pre-COVID car parking arrangements from 1 September 2020.  The normal arrangements for patients and visitors paying for chargeable spaces will be re-instated and traffic management (enforcement) will recommence on all hospital sites.

    Some free staff parking will still be available in the Multi storey car parks on both the Altnagelvin and South West Acute Hospital sites, and this will be kept under review on a weekly basis taking account of demand from patients and visitors. 

  • July 2020

    16/07/2020 Update to Patient and Visitor Restrictions to Maternity Services

    Due to the continued risks associated with Covid19, the Western Trust had to continue with restrictions for attending Maternity Services during this initial period but have now added a further update to this position, to come into effect from Monday 20 July 2020.

    From Monday 20 July 2020, for Scan Appointments, one nominated partner may accompany a woman attending for the dating scan, 20 week Anomaly Scan and Fetal Medicine Scan. Trust teams will continue to work closely with all woman and ensure their safety at all times during this period.

    Due to planning to deal with the COVID-19 Surge, the Trust had to move services in areas to deal with the pandemic and our teams have been working diligently to reset services and allow for visiting and attendance of partners to attend scans in Maternity Services.

    In Altnagelvin Area Hospital, the Trust have this week now relocated the Ante Natal Service back to Clinic 1 and, following preparations within the clinic to cater for social distancing and having identified an additional space for partners to use as a waiting area, have restructured the scheduling to allow partners to attend dating scans in addition to what was previously in place.

    The Ante Natal Clinic temporarily based in Omagh, as part of the restructure to deal with COVID-19 in South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen, will also permit partners to attend the dating scan. Again this is in addition to the previously named scans, from Monday 20 July 2020. To do this, the Trust will implement procedures to allow partners to use the reception waiting area in Omagh Hospital & Primary Care Complex for this purpose. Planning continues by the Trust to move this Ante Natal Service back to South West Acute Hospital but must emphasise this will take time in the present circumstances to complete the works to enable this and an update will be provided in early August on this progress.

    The Trust continues to work hard to reset and rebuild our services in a very challenging environment and will continue to provide updates on this as we progress.

    Please note now the updated guidelines which must be adhered to during this time and again thank you for working with us during these challenging times.

    Patient and Visitor Restrictions to Maternity Services

    • Scan appointments
      • One nominated partner may accompany a woman attending for the following scan appointments: Dating scan, 20 week Anomaly Scan, and Fetal Medicine Scan.
    • Visiting
      • Ante Natal – One nominated visitor may stay for I hour on admission, including women being admitted for IOL. One nominated partner can visit for 1 hour between 7.30pm and 8.30pm
      • Post Natal – One nominated person can visit for 1 hour between 2.00pm and 3.00pm or 7.30pm to 8.30pm
      • All visitors must remain by the bedside throughout the visit and maintain 2 metre distancing between other visitors
      • No visitors under the age of 16 years
    • Labour and Birth
      • One birth partner may accompany a woman during active birth and labour.

    Further information
    All visitors, accompanying partners and birth partners could be asymptomatic. They must attend with facial mask covering, which should be worn on admission to the individual ward/department.

    All visitors must sanitise their hands on entering the Maternity Building and on admission to the individual ward/department.

    Please note that Face Covering MUST be worn at ALL TIMES while attending any of our Hospitals or Care Settings.


    11/07/2020 Presentation on Care Home Sector & Support

    The following presentation was delivered to Derry and Strabane District Council Public Representatives on Thursday 11th June 2020.

    11 06 20 Care Homes Derry City Strabane District Council A

    The following presentation was delivered to Fermanagh and Omagh District Council Health Committee Public Representatives on Friday 10th July 2020.

    Council FODC Briefing 10072020


    10/07/2020 Rebuilding Plan – Stage Two (July – September 2020)

    The Western Health and Social Care Trust continues to assess the risk of COVID-19 for our service users, patients, clients and staff as well as the risk associated with the direct impact that managing COVID-19 has on reducing the capacity and access to other services for our community.

    The Trust also needs to stay prepared for a potential second surge which could coincide with winter pressures, meaning we cannot return all our services back to the way they were before the pandemic. We need to prioritise and focus on treating the people which have been assessed as our most urgent cases first, and as a result some patients and service users will wait longer for their assessment, contact or intervention than we would like.

    As requested by the Health Minister, the Trust published a Stage One plan covering the period to 30 June 2020 aimed at taking the early steps to plan for and increase capacity locally and across the system.  The Department of Health has now set out planning for Stage Two. In support of this, the Western Trust has set out an overview of the services that we plan to maintain and rebuild as part of the COVID-19 response during July, August and September 2020.

    The way services are delivered may look and feel different. Patients and service users can expect the following:

    • To alleviate patient and service user concerns we are working to identify ways to ensure, where possible, services will be provided using separate pathways for patients suspected or confirmed with COVID-19;
    • We recognise that some of our service users may be still shielding and we are making additional plans to support their care;
    • You may be offered planned appointments during the evening and weekends to avoid unnecessary delays;
    • Some outpatient appointments with clinical teams may happen by telephone or by video call, as appropriate.  There will be limited face to face appointments and these will be given to urgent and priority cases;
    • To minimise the time you wait, and understand any risks, we will help you to prepare for your appointments in a different way such as screening questionnaires or getting your blood samples taken before arrival;
    • People may be given specific times to access services due to  limited waiting spaces;
    • Staff may be wearing masks and other protective covering to keep you and themselves safe;
    • We will use our accommodation in a way which helps us to maintain social distancing.

    A copy of the rebuilding plan – Stage Two can you be found here:

    DoH Rebuilding HSC Services WHSCT Stage 2 Plan July September 2020

    For the Department of Health Plan click on the link below:


    10/07/2020 Maternity Services Update

    Due to the continued risks associated with Covid19, there remain some restrictions in place for Maternity Services.

    For Scan Appointments, one nominated partner may accompany a woman attending for the 20 week Anomaly Scan and Fetal Medicine Scan but women must attend all other outpatient appointments alone.

    Trust teams will work closely with all woman and ensure their safety at all times and in the event of a woman receiving bad news, a partner will be invited to accompany her.

    For Labour and Birth, one birth partner may accompany a woman during active birth and labour.

    It is regrettable that we cannot offer the opportunity for partner’s to attend all scans at this time but to do so would be putting the safety of woman and our staff at risk due to COVID-19.

    Dating scans are carried out at Consultant clinics presently where waiting areas are limited. In addition appointment slots have been changed from 15 to 20 minutes to allow for crucial cleaning between each women’s appointments and also to ensure that social distancing is adhered to.

    We continue to work hard and are exploring alternative options on how we can overcome this challenge and we will update you on this as soon as we can in the future.

    Please check below for all guidelines which must be adhered to during this time and thank you for working with us also during these challenging times.

    Patient and Visitor Restrictions Maternity Services

    Scan appointments
    • One nominated partner may accompany a woman attending for the following scan appointments: 20 week Anomaly Scan, and Fetal Medicine Scan.
    • Women are required to attend all other outpatient appointments alone
    • In the event of a woman receiving bad news, a partner will be invited to accompany her

    Visiting
    • Ante Natal – One nominated visitor may stay for I hour on admission, including women being admitted for IOL. One nominated partner can visit for 1 hour between 7.30pm and 8.30pm
    • Post Natal – One nominated person can visit for 1 hour between 2.00pm and 3.00pm or 7.30pm to 8.30pm
    • All visitors must remain by the bedside throughout the visit and maintain 2 metre distancing between other visitors
    • No visitors under the age of 16 years

    Labour and Birth
    • One birth partner may accompany a woman during active birth and labour.

    Further information
    All visitors, accompanying partners and birth partners could be asymptomatic. They must attend with facial mask covering, which should be worn on admission to the individual ward/department.
    They must sanitise their hands on entering the Maternity Building and on admission to the individual ward/department.

    This video and this information will go out on all our Western Trust channels this weekend explaining this position.


    03/07/2020 – New Visiting Guidance

    Click Here to view Visiting Guidance

    During this COVID19 pandemic, normal healthcare visiting arrangements were suspended to safeguard and protect both our patients and staff. We recognise that this has been a particularly difficult time for everyone involved. We would like to thank everyone for their cooperation and understanding, as well as recognise the vital role our staff have played in providing comfort and reassurance to patients when their families were unable to be by their side.

    Following the recent announcement from the Health Minister about visiting to healthcare settings, the Trust has developed new visiting guidance. This guidance has been developed to facilitate visiting while the Trust is in pre, or low surge and are subject to change should any individual ward or facility have two or more suspected cases of COVID19, in which case all visiting will cease.

    The new visiting guidance in our hospitals will commence from Monday 6 July 2020. However, Trust run Residential Homes will be recommencing visiting on a phased approach and all families will be contacted directly regarding this. The Trust is also providing support to Independent Care Facilities as they reopen to visitors and relatives are advised to link with the Care home manager for local arrangements.

    Principles of Visiting:
    • From 6th July 2020 all people visiting/attending any health and social care setting will be required to wear face coverings for the foreseeable future. The public will be required to supply their own face covering and will not be permitted to enter the facility without it.
    • Anyone showing or experiencing the symptoms of COVID19 or any other infection should not visit, even if these symptoms are mild and unconfirmed. In these circumstances the individual should remain at home and follow the latest public health advice on self-isolation and testing.
    • Each patient may nominate up to two people to visit throughout their hospital stay. (This will differ for care homes).
    • Visiting times are between 2 – 3pm and 4 – 5pm daily (excluding maternity), in order to assist the Trust to manage footfall of people in hospital and community facilities, and to maintain a safe environment for our patients and health care workers.Families will be provided with the specific visiting timetable and should not attend for visiting without prior arrangement with the ward.
    • Only one visitor at a time can visit (except in exceptional circumstances and discussed with the Ward Manager).
    • You are advised not to visit if you are shielding.
    • No children under 16 may visit.
    • Visits will be a maximum duration of one hour.
    • Visitors will be required to sanitise their hands on entering and leaving the hospital/care home/facility and again on entering and leaving the ward or area where the visit is taking place.
    • Entrance and exit points may differ and visitors are asked to adhere to the signage in place. The Trust also has a ‘keep left’ approach in place to promote social distancing.
    • Visitors should use the entrance closest to the ward/department they are accessing at Altnagelvin Hospital. The main entrance at South West Acute Hospital should be used by all patients and visitors.
    • Please note the Emergency Department entrance does not permit access to the main hospital.
    • Where possible virtual visiting remains the preferred option as this reduces the risk of spread of COVID19 and to support this, all areas will continue to facilitate virtual visiting.

    Maternity:

    • Birth partner/nominated person will be facilitated to accompany the pregnant woman to fetal anomaly scan. Women must attend all other scan appointments in Ante Natal Clinic, Gynae Ward 43 and Fetal Assessment Unit on their own. This may be reviewed at a later date.
    • Ante Natal Ward – their birthing partner, who can stay for one hour on admission, can accompany women being admitted for induction of labour.Birthing partners can visit in Ante Natal Ward for 1-hour between 7.30pm and 8.30pm.
    • Labour Ward/ MLU – Birth partner/nominated person can remain with the woman during active labour and birth.
    • Post Natal Ward – Partner only will be permitted to visit for 1-hour period. Ward Manager depending on which room/bed the woman is in to allow for social distancing in four bedded areas will allocate the time slot. It will be either 2.00pm to 3.00pm or 7.30pm to 8.30pm.

    Emergency Department:

    • One person only to accompany patient where the patient is unable to understand or communicate with staff.

    Outpatients:

    • Where it is necessary for the patient to attend face-to-face appointments, only one person to accompany where the person is unable to understand or communicate with staff.

    Radiology:

    • One person only to accompany patient where the patient is unable to understand or communicate with staff / requires physical or emotional assistance/ is a child, so must be accompanied by a parent or chaperone.

     

    The Trust would also like to remind the public that due to social distancing, very limited refreshments will be available on our hospital sites. At busier times, limited car parking will be available close to the main hospital entrances, therefore we would encourage the public to leave extra time for your journey.

    Dr Bob Brown, Executive Director of Nursing at the Western Trust said: “The new arrangements have been developed to protect the health, safety and wellbeing of our patients, communities and staff during a pre or low surge of COVID-19.

    “We recognise that this has been a very difficult time for patients and families and we would like to thank the public for their patience and understanding as we implement our new visiting guidance.”

    Dr Brown continued: “We would also like to take the opportunity to once again thank our amazing community and hospital staff who have worked beyond the call of duty, under the most challenging of circumstances throughout recent months. Staff have not only been providing first class clinical care, but also became an extended family to patients, spending additional time at the bedside comforting and hand holding when loved ones were unable to do so and helping patients make contact with their loved ones through virtual means.”

     

  • June 2020

    23/06/2020 Audit review of fit testing for respiratory masks

    Public Health Agency Statement

    “We can confirm that an audit review of fit testing for respiratory masks is ongoing within the HSC system.

    “This is being done on a precautionary basis.

    “It has emerged that one independent contractor, which conducted Fit Testing of masks during the pandemic, had inadvertently applied a fit-testing setting not normally used in Northern Ireland. This should have been readjusted to the UK Fit Testing requirements.

    “We are advised that any risk to staff is likely to be low.

    “The HSC system is now carrying out a validation and audit exercise of all fit-tests conducted by this independent contractor.

    “The Public Health Agency has been asked by the Department of Health to undertake a Serious Adverse Incident review.

    “Additional measures across the HSC will be put in place to review and monitor fit testing outcomes moving forward. Trusts are informing staff affected and offering support. Fit testing will be carried out under the correct NI setting.

    “We fully recognise that the issues raised may cause some concern and we very much regret that. We would again stress that these checks are being taken as a precautionary step to reassure staff that the masks are being fitted to the highest safety standards. Rigorous tried and tested procedures have been in place during the pandemic for staff to highlight any concerns if they feel their PPE equipment does not properly fit.

    Further information will be made public following the conclusion of the audit.”


    23/06/2020 Reset and Rebuild of Services Update

    Working together with our health and social care partners across Northern Ireland, the Western Trust introduced a Service Reset Framework on 9 June 2020 to support staff in assessing the impact of scaling up or restarting services.

    This planning reinforces the importance of COVID19 safe environments and working practice to protect our staff, patients and service users and ensure there is a rigorous and careful approach to minimise transmission of COVID19 and protect the most urgent services.

    In close collaboration with our Health and Social Care partners regionally, we are preparing to move to Phase 2 of the Western Trust Reset Plan in early July 2020. This will include the preparations we need to ease the current restrictions on visiting across our hospitals and facilities. The Trust hope to introduce visiting in a phased manner in the coming weeks.

    We again emphasise there are many challenges to be faced in this planning, as well as understanding there is a certain level of uncertainty with regard to COVID19. With that in mind we must re-iterate that visiting patients in our hospitals will need to be organised differently for the foreseeable future in order to enable us and our visitors to comply with social distancing requirements.  The Trust will always endeavour to ensure that any necessary changes are communicated to our patients and the public in a timely fashion as we implement any new visiting arrangement.

    There are many challenges which we must prepare for ahead of this return and these include ensuring proper social distancing measures, use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection prevention and control requirements are in place.

    The Western Trust wants to reassure you that we are committed to providing the best possible care to all our service users and patients and the Trust remains firmly focused on the restart of services whilst continuing to work diligently for the safe return of visiting to our facilities. Again we must emphasise that this will form part of an overall regional collaborative approach.

    We understand the public’s need for further information at this time and can confirm that we continue to deal with a large volume of enquiries on a wide range of issues. We ask that you please work with us as we reset and rebuild our services with all the aforementioned crucial elements in place.

    We will continue to provide updates as we progress this important work and would ask that you refer to our website where regular updates will continue to be provided: www.westerntrust.hscni.net


    23/06/2020 Maternity Services Update

    The Western Trust has had many enquiries with regard to birth Maternity Updatepartners being facilitated to accompany a woman to dating scans, foetal anomaly scans, induction of labour, active labour and birth and to visit the antenatal ward or postnatal ward. Again we emphasise that, while a regional approach will be undertaken, there are many challenges we must overcome to implement this and we are very focused on providing a clear update on this very soon.

    Until then please note that visiting restrictions remain in place until the end of June 2020 and there will continue to be no visiting on the wards which is a Trust wide policy.

    There will be some exceptional circumstances which should be discussed directly with your Community Midwife (on the number on the front of your Green Maternity Notes). While some exceptions may be in place locally and need to be checked directly (tel. numbers below) we must emphasise that currently, in order to reduce the spread of COVID19, you may only have one birth partner with you whilst you are in labour.

    The Trust continue to work on expanding this policy in the period ahead and will have further information on this with our Phase 2 plans at the beginning of July 2020.

    For further queries on your attendance to hospital please contact our pregnancy advice line.

    • Altnagelvin Area Hospital: 028 7161 1412
    • South West Acute Hospital:  028 6638 2175

    18/06/2020 Health Minister Pauses Shielding Advice

    Health Minister Robin Swann has announced plans to pause the shielding advice that was issued to people ahead of the COVID19 peak in Northern Ireland.

    From 31 July, subject to the rate of community transmission continuing to be low, people will no longer need to shield and should instead follow the same guidance and precautions as those considered to be generally vulnerable.

    That involves taking particular care when out and about – and strictly maintaining social distancing. Letters will be issued in the coming days to all those covered by shielding informing them of the planned change.

    Mr Swann stated: “I have been clear that shielding would not last one minute longer than it needed to. We have now reached the point where, if the current trends continue, there will be no need for anyone to shield after 31 July.

    “I have listened to many of you and to the challenges you have faced during this period. I am in no doubt as to the difficulties shielding has presented for a great many people.

    “It is unrealistic to think these difficulties will just vanish because the need to shield has ended. That is why the letters we issue will provide details of the support which will continue to be available up to and after 31 July.

    “While my announcement today will be welcome news for many who are shielding, some will view the prospect of an end to shielding with great anxiety. I want to assure them that they should decide what to do at their own pace. Everyone will approach this situation differently.

    “As is so often the case at present, this will be about weighing up the options and making informed choices. Going outside can bring some degree of potential risk but this can be mitigated and minimised by strict social distancing. Staying indoors indefinitely is not good for anyone’s mental or physical health.

    “Finally, I would ask everyone to be considerate as people end their periods of shielding.

    “We should all continue to social distance, but in the coming weeks I want you to be particularly understanding of the fact you might be encountering someone who has had to stay at home for many weeks. Please be aware of this, show respect and kindness to all and keep your distance.”


    17/06/2020 New Framework Planned for Nursing and Medical Input to Care Homes

    Greater nursing support for care homes must form part of a new future for the sector, Health Minister Robin Swann has stated.

    The Minister has made clear his determination to secure investment and reform in social care in Northern Ireland. He has today announced plans for a new framework for nursing, medical and multidisciplinary in-reach into care homes.

    The Minister said: “There has been an important shift in the complexity of care provided in care homes over recent years. A greater proportion of care home residents have complex clinical healthcare needs than would have been the case in the past.

    “Residents who would have been in hospital five years ago and receiving palliative or end of life care are often now cared for in nursing and residential homes. Residential homes are often now providing a level of care that would have previously been found in nursing homes.

    “The learning over the past few months has highlighted the high level of frailty and clinical acuity of residents in our nursing homes. It is beyond doubt that the sector needs much greater resilience.

    “Whilst I recognise the wide range of measures deployed to protect residents during the COVID19 pandemic, it is timely to review how we build on this support going forward. This will inform our ongoing response to the virus and help us rebuild care home provision for the long term.

    “I have therefore asked the Chief Nursing Officer, Professor Charlotte McArdle, to co-design a new framework in partnership with the care home sector for the provision of clinical care. This work will include examining how we would expand nursing, medical and multidisciplinary support, clinical leadership and specialist skills in collaboration with care home staff. This will include building on the important role of GPs in care homes.”

    The Minister said providing alternatives to hospital-based care for older people is essential.

    He said: “Care home residents rightly view them as their homes, providing care and connections to families and communities. We must never lose sight of that fact.

    “This is not about converting care homes into mini-hospitals but ensuring that we keep supporting homes to deliver the care I know they want to, with the right level of clinical in-reach available at the right time.

    “We need to support everyone to have the care they need at home whenever possible – whether that is in a family home or a care home.”

    Work is also being taken forward by the Department to learn from care home experiences of COVID19. A Rapid Learning Initiative was announced by the Health Minister earlier this month.

    Concluding Minister Swann said: “We must learn from the experiences of the past number of months, including what worked well. Together with the care home sector, we will work to implement measures that can have a positive impact. This is fundamental in protecting our care home population in any future surge.”


    09/06/2020 Western Trust’s Reset Plan

    In response to the initial phases of COVID-19 pandemic, we changed the way services were delivered in the Western Trust. A wide range of services were stood down or scaled back due to the risk of spread of COVID-19. New services were introduced to meet the predicted demands of the pandemic.

    With the first peak of the COVID-19 outbreak in Northern Ireland having passed, our focus is now on planning, with our HSC partners, how to restart services while maintaining sufficient flexibility so that our services can respond to future waves of this disease.

    In working together with our health and social care partners across NI to implement the recovery of non-COVID-19 HSC Services, the agreed regional approach will be to ensure equity of access to treatment for patients and clients across NI, to minimise transmission of COVID-19 and to protect the most urgent services.

    A set of guiding principles in the form of a ‘checklist’ has been established by the Department of Health (DoH) to guide service planning. The DoH has asked that service restart plans be assessed against the checklist to ensure that they have been subject to a rigorous risk assessment, take account of new ways of working and can be safely implemented in line with social distancing, use of personal protective equipment (PPE) and infection prevention and control requirements. The Western Trust has introduced a Reset Framework to support staff in assessing the impact of scaling up or restarting services and to ensure there is a rigorous and careful approach to planning.

    The Western Trust Stage 1 Plan identifies the services we have maintained throughout these initial months of the COVID-19 pandemic across a wide range of areas. It identifies those that we will continue and others that we will begin to restart or scale up. It sets out some of the important preparation work needed to provide COVID-19 safe environments and working practices, to protect our staff, patients and service users.

    There are a number of constraints which are foremost in the planning process, including availability of PPE; availability of drugs and restrictions on the practice of vulnerable staff.

    Our Stage 1 plan will focus on:
    • Supporting strong community services for frail or older people.
    • Preparing for the impact of the COVID-19 pandemic on mental health services.
    • Managing risk, and providing COVID-19-safe services for staff and our service users.
    • Involving our staff and service users.

    Speaking about the launch of Stage 1 of the Trust’s Reset Plan Dr Anne Kilgallen, Western Trust Chief Executive said: “There is no doubt that this has been one of the most difficult periods we have ever had to experience. I would like to thank our community and hospital staff for their hard work and dedication. Members of the public have also been unwavering in their support and this has not gone unnoticed.

    “There are many challenges which we have faced and will continue to face in the new COVID-19 environment. Our Stage 1 plan sets out the steps we are taking to rebuild, reset and make necessary changes to our services into the future.

    “It is accepted that COVID-19 remains a public health risk to our population and a phased and flexible approach is needed to restarting services. As a result, the way services are delivered may look and feel different. There are opportunities to do things differently in ways that improve care. Many great initiatives have already begun.”

    Dr Kilgallen continued: “While there are significant challenges ahead, the public should be reassured that we are committed to providing the best possible care in environments that reduce the risk of infection for staff and services users alike. We will continue to work diligently to create COVID-19-safe environments while we rebuild services.”

    Click here to view a copy of the rebuilding plan – Stage One

    Click Here for Documents on Rebuilding Health and Social Care Services

    Chief Executive, Dr. Anne Kilgallen, message on the launch of the Trust’s Reset Plan which has been launched in tandem with the Minister for Health’s framework document on Rebuilding Health and Social Care

    02/06/2020 – Minister Announces £11.7m care home support package

    Health Minister Robin Swann has announced a further £11.7million package of support for care homes – including funding for sick pay for staff.

    The Minister warned that Covid-19 represents an active and long-term threat to care homes.

    He also stressed that work is ongoing to ensure lessons from the pandemic are learned and implemented in the sector.

    “Care homes remain at the forefront of our battle against the virus and it is essential that they are provided with as much support as possible. I keep reminding everyone that the threat from Coronavirus is far from over and this certainly applies to our care homes.

    “The threat will be with us on a long-term basis so it is vital that we learn lessons from the devastating experiences in care homes not just here, but internationally.”

    The £11.7m financial package will enable homes to pay staff 80% of their salary when on sick leave for Covid-19 related reasons. It will also provide support with cleaning costs and the provision of specialist equipment.

    Many care homes have already enhanced their cleaning regimes to reduce infection transmission.  This new funding will allow all care homes to implement significantly enhanced cleaning regimes, reflecting the importance of measures such as basic hygiene and cleaning in combatting the virus.

    Covid-19 does not always present in the typical way in older people. Up to £2.2m of the funding will be for the provision of new equipment – including thermometers and pulse oximeters – to enable recording of clinical observations. This will help with early identification of a wider range of symptoms that may indicate an infection and allow for prompt clinical responses. These responses can be delivered by the multi-disciplinary team in a range of ways, including nursing care by staff in the nursing or residential care home; specialist in-reach clinical input that may include medical, nursing and allied health professional expertise; or, transfer to hospital where appropriate and in accordance with the individual’s wishes.

    The new funding will also support the widespread use of tablet devices in care homes to ensure online communication with families in the continuing absence of visits.

    “The Covid-19 emergency has shone a harsh light on the long-standing challenges facing social care. I am committed to tackling these issues through investment and reform,” the Minister continued.

    He also stated that a Rapid Learning Initiative is underway, to identify lessons from care home experiences of Covid-19. This will involve input from the care home sector and from across the Health and Social Care system.

    “We owe it to those who lost their lives in care homes and their families to learn and implement lessons. Northern Ireland is far from unique in experiencing these tragedies. One life lost is one too many and a matter of great regret.”

    Mr Swann said work on improving regulation of care homes is an essential part of social care reform.

    “A review of regulation is ongoing and is of crucial importance. Under the existing legislative framework, care homes are registered and regulated as independent entities. I am keen to explore ways of strengthening accountability when care home providers repeatedly fall short of regulatory standards across a number of different homes under their control.”


    01/06/2020 COVID19 Test, Trace, Protect, Support Strategy

    Saving lives by minimising SARS-CoV2 transmission in the community in Northern Ireland

    CLICK HERE to view this strategy

  • May 2020

    22/05/2020 Update from Chief Executive

    Chief Executive, Dr. Anne Kilgallen, provides an update to you on looking ahead to sustain and provide safe care during the continued threat of Covid-19.


    22/05/2020 Update on PPE

    Click Here to view larger PDF image of our up to date PPE stock position.


    22/05/2020 Update on Independent Sector Support

    The Trust continues to provide support to the following colleagues in the Independent Sector;

    • Nursing / Residential Homes
    • Domiciliary Care Providers
    • Supported Living Providers
    • Children’s Residential / Supported Accommodation Providers

    COVID19 Testing

    The Trust has developed and implemented pathways to test our clients in the community. This includes patients in their own home who cannot access a trust based testing centre, clients in Nursing/Residential homes and supported living facilities. The pathways include singular testing and whole facility testing as directed by the Public Health Agency, and is inclusive of Independent Sector staff. The Trust has established a Community Testing Team to co-ordinate a responsive service to meet this need; this will include a centralised reporting control room.

    Continuity Support Meetings

    The Trust continue to meet our providers on a weekly basis.  These meetings are proving to be very beneficial to both providers and the Trust in ensuring we are best supporting the needs of our service users / residents.

    Data Collection Returns

    Care Home Sector – The RQIA implemented a new data return requirement for this sector on 20/04/2020, this has replaced the previous Trust reporting requirement on our providers.  The RQIA provide a report on these returns daily to the Trust.

    In regard to the other mentioned Independent Service providers they continue to send in daily returns to the Trust in relation to Covid / suspected Covid Statistics, bed vacancies, void places, PPE stocks / issues, staff shortages, workforce planning concerns.  All returns are fed onto a sharepoint site for the perusal and consideration of the Single Point Of Contact (SPOC) for each area.  From the information gathered the Trust SPOC’s can have an overview of presenting issues each day within their specific areas.

    As has been the situation from implementation, this information is used to inform the Trust of potential PPE shortages and where support is required, the potential for clusters to emerge in specific Homes and Supported Living environments. It is also used to help identify clustering in the community in regards to Domiciliary Care providers. This information also provides an insight to the Trust on our providers staffing / workforce and can alert the Trust to areas where potential shortfalls may occur and where we may need to support. The Trust SPOC’s are in regular contact with our providers which supplements the facts and figures received daily from our providers.  The Trust are presently providing a weekly supply of PPE to our Domiciliary Care and Residential / Nursing Home Sector. The Trust also continue to support our supported living /accommodation providers with the provision of PPE also.

    Oversight Groups

    The Trust have established a Community Covid Oversight Group to oversee the work taking place within the Trust in regard to Care Homes, Supported Living and Hostels that can adopt a proactive, preventative approach to supporting and responding to the needs of this sector during this period. Priority work streams have been identified around information flows, workforce, patient & staff testing, Governance, End of Life and support links.

    Our Homecare Department remain in contact with our Domiciliary Care providers twice weekly to ensure support to this sector.

    Workforce Support

    The Trust continue to have Covid specific Domiciliary Care Teams within each of our Localities.

    The Trust are continuing to develop robust contingency plans in the event of the need arising for Trust staff having to work in Care Home settings.  The Trust have issued a volunteer staff appeal for Trust staff to volunteer to be part of a Care Home Support Team model across the Trust to provide workforce support to Care Homes if required.  This appeal went out to all Trust staff and the teams presently being established will be multidisciplinary with membership of nurses, social care staff, AHP staff, domestic staff etc.

    Care Homes: Surge Plan

    The HSCB and the PHA have worked together and developed a surge plan.

    The objectives of this plan are to reduce the number of outbreaks and the number individuals in each outbreak, to provide robust integrated Medical, Nursing, Social Care responses and to work in partnership with Care Homes to ensure person centred care is delivered to all residents irrespective of whether they have COVID-19 or not.

    CLICK HERE to view the Care Home Regional Surge Plan


    22/05/2020 Diagnostic Covid-19 Testing at Agri-Food & Biosciences Inst

    Testing for COVID19 is now underway at the Agri-Food and Biosciences Institute (AFBI), significantly increasing the Department of Health’s testing capacity in Northern Ireland for COVID19.

    The new testing facility is the result of the recently established NI COVID-19 Scientific Advisory Consortium which includes Queen’s University Belfast, Ulster University and AFBI. It is led by Professor Stuart Elborn, Pro Vice-Chancellor for Medicine, Health and Life Sciences at Queen’s University Belfast, who is an international leader in respiratory medicine. The consortium works under the auspices of the Department of Health’s Expert Advisory Group on Testing and is also supported by DAERA.

    Patient sample testing began at AFBI’s laboratories this week following an extensive quality assurance process with the Regional Viral Laboratory (RVL)  in the Belfast Trust. AFBI are being closely supported by scientists from Queen’s University Belfast.

    Health Minister Robin Swann thanked the consortium for their support and said; “I am grateful to all colleagues in the consortium for their collective efforts, working together with colleagues in our HSC labs, to increase our capacity to provide quick, accurate diagnoses at such a crucial point in our fight against Covid-19. This increased capacity will be key as we continue to deliver a robust response to this unprecedented pandemic and protect the health of our population.”

    The consortium expect to increase the testing capacity at AFBI to 1,000 tests per day with further testing capacity, estimated to be an additional 400 tests per day, to be delivered by Ulster University in collaboration with the Western Trust. Other collaborations are currently under development and are expected to come on line in June.

    Minister Edwin Poots warmly welcomed the additional testing facility; “This is another positive step forward in our continued fight against COVID-19. I am grateful for the combined expertise from our universities and AFBI which has enabled us to increase our testing capacity in Northern Ireland. Testing is a key component in tackling this virus and our increased capacity at AFBI is an example of what can be achieved by successful collaboration.”

    Professor Elborn said, “We are pleased that patient sample testing for COVID-19 is now taking place at AFBI following a rigorous quality assurance process and extensive collaboration. This new facility will significantly increase Northern Ireland’s capacity for patient testing. The consortium is an example of what cross-sectoral partnership can achieve and the significant difference collaboration can make during this time of a global pandemic.”


    22/05/2020 Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex: Moving On With COVID19

    Please note there will be some changes to Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex from Tuesday 26 May 2020.  These measures have been put in place to protect staff, patients and visitors to the Complex.

    All Department Heads will have received communication on these changes.  Most notable are listed below for your reference:-

    • Staff and public will be using separate entrance and exit points.  Staff to use the doors to right of automatic opening doors at front of building and doors adjacent to Urgent Care entrance at rear of building.  Only visiting members of the public are to come through the electronic opening doors at either end of the building.  Staff can also utilise any of the swipe access doors throughout the building.
    • Porters will be located at both sets of electronic opening doors to verify that visitors to the site have appointments.
    • Hand sanitising points are available at both main entrances to the building and in all departments.
    • The River Café will only be for staff refreshment at the current time.  Displays will be erected to explain to the public that the Café is only facilitating staff refreshment during this Pandemic and that this is in the interests of public health.
    • Social distancing measures will be put in place across all Wards and Departments.

    Thank You All For Your Cooperation and Patience As We Adapt Our Practices


    22/05/2020 Virtual Call Service for “Shielded” individuals across the Western Trust area

    In response to COVID-19 Pandemic, the Western Health Social Care Trust established a Virtual Call Service for “Shielded” individuals across the Western Trust area.

    The service aims to ensure that those who are identified as most vulnerable and residing in the WHSCT area have adequate practical, emotional and social help and support to self-isolate at home during the COVID-19 outbreak.

    Following the initial referral from Advice NI, an assessment is carried out and a range of support is offered under the key themes of the shielding package which include food, fuel, medication and social contact.

    The service is delivered in partnership with Derry City and Strabane District Council, Fermanagh and Omagh District Council, Causeway Coast and Glens Borough Council, Community and Voluntary Sector, Advice NI and the Department for Communities.

    CLICK HERE for Community Hub Update Report for Week Commencing 18 May 2020


    22/05/2020 Mental Health Awareness & Support during COVID19

    We launched a Mental Health Support Online hub which continues to be updated with video, resources and information regularly each week providing help and support with regard to Mental Health and Wellbeing.

    Further information and guidance videos will continue to be rolled out regularly on our Western Trust Social Media Channels and also included in the printed Community Newsletter going out in June 2020.

    Full details on the Online Hub 


    20/05/2020 Resetting Paediatric Inpatient and Neonatal Services in South West Acute Hospital

    On Wednesday 8 April 2020, as part of the Western Trust Covid 19 surge planning process and in line with regional guidance, the Trust centralised inpatient paediatric and neonatal services at Altnagelvin Hospital.

    As communicated to you at the time, the reconfiguration of services were primarily to make services as resilient and sustainable as possible and to prevent unplanned collapses. Consideration was given to maintain safe staffing in units as well as wider pressures created by COVID-19 in the adult service.

    As the anticipated COVID-19 associate surge relating to paediatric services in Northern Ireland has not occurred and having considered all necessary risks and impacts, Western Trust are delighted to re-set Paediatric and Neonatal inpatient services within the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) from Monday 25 May 2020. The paediatric inpatient and neonatal service provision in SWAH will therefore revert to the pre-covid model.

    I would like to take this opportunity to thank all of our staff for their continued hard work, compassion and flexibility in these very difficult times. I would also express thanks to parents, families and our patients for their support and co-operation whilst the temporary measures were in place.

    We would also like to highlight that all planning relating to Covid19 remains under constant review.

    Deirdre Mahon

    Director of Women & Children’s Services


    22/05/2020: Chief Executive, Dr Anne Kilgallen, provides a latest update message to Public Representatives


    08/05/2020 Chief Executive Report to Trust Board

    Chief Executive, Dr. Anne Kilgallen, provided a comprehensive update to Trust Board on Thursday 07 May 2020 in her Chief Executive’s Report.

    This gives a detailed look at the Western Trust’s COVID19 pandemic emergency response as we are in the 10th week of dealing with this challenge.

    For the Full Report – Click on the below link.


    08/05/2020 Community Hub

    We are issuing the following information through our Community Newsletter with regard to our Community Hub:

    Click Here for – Community Hub May 2020

    Western Health and Social Care Trust is working in partnership with our council colleagues in Causeway Coast and Glens District Council, Fermanagh Omagh District Council and Derry City and Strabane District Council to support those most vulnerable during Co-Vid 19.  Up to Sunday 3 May 2920, WHSCT Co-Vid Community Support Call Handling team have supported a total number of 1292 people who have been informed by their GP that they are ‘Shielded’ and must remain at home.

    In addition council have worked closely with the Community and Voluntary Sector to support vulnerable people in local areas.  In terms of all Vulnerable Isolated People across the Project the total number of people supported are:-

    Fermanagh Omagh District Council: – 2266 referrals and 2322 interventions

    Derry City and Strabane District Council: – 1310 referrals and 1492 interventions

    Causeway Coast and Glens District Council: – 998 referrals and 1021interventions

    If you have received a letter from you GP to inform you that you should remain at home and are having difficulty due to this please ring the Advice NI Helpline – Tel 0808 802 0020.

    There are four key areas of support that is reviewed

    • Food – Have you access to food or can you get food delivered safely and on time to your home?
    • Medicine – Can you get access to your medicine?
    • Fuel – Can you access electricity/gas – or are you having difficulty heating your home?
    • Social Contact – Have you a support network that makes contact with you whist you are ‘shielded’ at home?

    If you need any further information on the project please ring the Health Improvement Department on 02871865127 or email health.improvement@westerntrust.hscni.net


    08/05/2020 Support to Vulnerable People in Community

    The Trust has been proactively involved in providing support to vulnerable people in our communities who have been affected by the impact of social isolation and shielding.

    The Trust initial strands to provide this support has been through the

    • The Trust Virtual Call Centre- GP patients who received ‘shielding letters’ were asked to contact Advice NI, which led to Trust, Councils and Community and Voluntary Sector ensuring that their needs were met. To date 975 Shielded patients have made been supported through the Trust Virtual Call Centre. This is part of a total 3719 vulnerable people that are supported through the council hubs, 898 within DCSDC, 2004 within FODC and 817 in CCG Councils (up to Sunday 26 April 2020).
    • Social Workers placed in GP practices (Limavady, Derry and Strabane areas) have been proactively reaching out to vulnerable people who are known to GP Practices. This has included 5098 people that were contacted and 1308 support plans put in place. Of the 5908 people, 3546 were patients who received shielding letters. That means that 1552 vulnerable people are not regarded as shielding patients.

    The SWs in GP practices are turning their attention more and more to people regarded with wider vulnerabilities, including where risks are posed due to mental health, alcohol problems, domestic violence, childcare concerns and the general impact of social isolation.

    The trust has recognised the need to develop additional responsiveness to vulnerable people, including those residing in the Omagh and Fermanagh area. To that end a Community Mobilisation steering group was convened by the Executive Director of SW on 29/4/2020. This forum agreed that in the weeks ahead:

    • A model similar to the SWs in GP practice in NS will be developed in Omagh and Fermanagh. This will include the proactive approach of contacting those who have been identified as vulnerable.
    • The focus of work that SWs in GP Practices will focus more on Vulnerable people ( less on shielding) and engage the local community and voluntary sector to provide support

    The Trust will continue to provide support via the Trust Virtual Call Centre to those who make contact requesting support


    07/05/2020 Urgent Staff Appeal for Western Trust Heroes

    The most vulnerable members of our local communities need our help. Independent Care Homes in the Western Trust area are dealing with very challenging circumstances at present and it is vital that we support these facilities to deliver essential care.

    The Trust is creating multi-disciplinary teams in 4 localities;

    • Enniskillen
    • Omagh
    • Strabane
    • Londonderry/Derry / Limavady.

    These teams will work within each locality to deliver a range of services for residents and their families.

    We are appealing to our Trust staff to volunteer for temporary deployment to roles within these teams. We are looking in particular for care assistants, nurses (all bands), nursing assistants, social workers, social care support, Allied Health Professionals and domestic / catering services.

    For full details and information – Click Here

    If you feel you might be able to help, then we urge you to consider putting your name forward. To volunteer, please e-mail the following information as soon as possible to marina.mcshane@westerntrust.hscni.net

    • First Name
    • Surname
    • Band
    • Job Title
    • Department
    • Location
    • Hours per week
    • Manager

    07/05/2020 Trust Children’s Services Gateway Team update

    During these difficult times we are asking the public to play a vital role with us in coming together to help us support and create greater safety for children who may not be safe from harm at home or who may not get the level of care they need.
    The Western Trust, Police Fermanagh & Omagh, Police Derry City & Strabane
    and the Education Authority are continuing to work together to identify vulnerable children and families and to provide them with support and safety to ensure they receive the care they need.
    If you have any concerns contact our Western Trust Gateway team on 02871314090.
    Further information here: https://bit.ly/2A7NWsl

    07/05/2020 Appointment of two Non-Executive Directors to the Western Health & Social Care Trust

    Health Minister Robin Swann, has announced the appointment of two (Lay) Non-Executive Directors to the Western Health & Social Care Trust (WHSCT).
    Professor Hugh McKenna and Rev Judith McGaffin were appointed on the 13 March 2020 for a maximum period of four years. The Non-Executive Director role attracts a remuneration of £8,283 per annum and carries a time commitment of one day per week.
    These appointments have been made in accordance with the Code of Practice issued by the Commissioner for Public Appointments for Northern Ireland.
    The WHSCT is one of five Trusts established as statutorily separate organisations within the Health & Social Care (HSC) family, responsible for the delivery of responsive and effective health and care services and for the ownership and management of hospitals and other establishments and facilities. They provide health and social care services against Ministerial priorities, standards and targets and are performance managed by the Department and the HSC Board. Services will be provided as specified in contracts with the commissioners of health and social care services, namely the HSC Board.
    The Board of the WHSCT is made up of five Executive Directors including the Chief Executive, a Non-Executive Chair and seven Non-Executive Directors.
    Notes:
    Professor Hugh McKenna – A nursing professor at Ulster University and, until recently, Dean of Medical School Development at Magee. He has 16 years’ experience in general and psychiatric practice and was chief nurse for the Southern Health and Social Services Board. He chairs the Inspire Charity and is on Patient and Client Council’s Research Committee. He is also a Trustee of the Alzheimer’s Society UK. He has Fellowships from five prestigious academic bodies and was appointed Commander of the British Empire (CBE) for his work on health and community. He received the Outstanding Achievement Award by the RCN and a Lifetime Achievement Award at the Institute of Psychiatry in London. In 2019 he was named one of the 70 most influential nurses in the 70 year history of the NHS. He has honorary doctoral degrees from Edinburgh Napier University and the University of Maribor, Slovenia. His research interests are patient quality and safety and the healthcare workforce.
    Rev Judith McGaffin – In 1980 Judith qualified as a dentist from Queen’s University Belfast and for the next 36 years worked in various parts of the health service in Northern Ireland. She began her clinical dental career in General Dental Practice in Armagh and then moved to the community dental service in the Southern and Western Boards. Judith was appointed as Director of Dental Health in the West in 1991 and retired as the Regional Lead for General dental services and governance in the Health and Social Care Board in 2016. Judith was ordained in the Church of Ireland in 2009 and is currently the part-time rector of the parishes of Fahan Upper and Lower in Co. Donegal. She is married to Brendan and has 2 children – David (38) who lives in Scotland and Jane (34) who lives in Australia. Her grandson Riley is almost a year old.


    Briefing Session with MLAs and MPs during COVID19 Planning

    Friday 01 May 2020, by Video Conference ( MLA MP Briefing Presentation 01052020)

    Review Brief, Click Here –  01052020 VC Briefing MLAs And MPs

  • April 2020

    28/04/2020 COVID19 Community Rapid Response Team

    COVID19 Community Rapid Response Team – a partnership between WHSCT and local Primary Care/GP Federations

    The COVID19 Community Rapid Response Team (CCRRT) will be operational in the Western trust area from Monday 27th April. In essence this is a visiting service, mobilised after telephone triage by a patient’s own GP or Western Urgent Care (WUC) GP with symptoms that may be in keeping with COVID19 infection. These patients are more likely to be frail and known to our services and ideally they and their carers will have already agreed that the ceiling of their care is treatment at home or in their nursing/residential home.

    Information will follow upon the mobilisation of the CCRRT.


    28/04/2020 Western Trust and Council Community Hubs

    As a consequence of the Government imposed COVID19 mitigation measures; restrictions on non-essential travel, self-isolation and social distancing, unconfirmed numbers of individuals will become vulnerable and isolated, within their own residences and communities.  Further to this the UK Government have introduced a shielding package which is a measure to protect people who are identified as extremely vulnerable by minimizing all interaction between them and others. People with serious underlying health conditions which put them at a very high risk of severe illness from coronavirus (COVID19), are strongly advised to rigorously follow shielding measures in order to keep themselves safe.  These people should have already or will soon receive a letter from their GP informing them that they should remain at home for a period of at least 12 weeks.

    So what will happen if I am Shielded? – Those who have been informed by their GP that they are ‘Shielded’ will have been directed to the Advice NI Helpline – Tel 0808 802 0020.  Advice NI will ask a few questions and refer ‘Shielded’ people to the WHSCT Call Support Team.  The WHSCT Call Support Team will make contact, and work with patients to decide what support they might need to help them remain safely at home.  There are four key areas of support that is reviewed

    • Food – Have you access to food or can you get food delivered safely and on time to your home?
    • Medicine – Can you get access to your medicine?
    • Fuel – Can you access electricity/gas – or are you having difficulty heating your home?
    • Social Contact – Have you a support network that makes contact with you whist you are ‘shielded’ at home?

    WHSCT Call Support Team record this information and inform our Council colleagues at Causeway Coast and Glens, Derry City and Strabane District Council and Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.  Councils then provide a coordination, response and reporting role, linking with community groups, church organisations, sporting clubs/ bodies and other active groups (Voluntary Community Organisations) to provide Community and Social Support

    What if I am not, or someone I know or care for is not, ‘Shielded’ but vulnerable?

    Non-Shielded Vulnerable People (VIPs) can also make contact with Advice NI

    (Tel 0808 802 0020) who will refer them direct to the council hubs.  Councils will provide a similar response as they will with Shielded Patients, working with Community and Voluntary groups to support both Shielded and Non- Shielded Vulnerable and Isolated Persons (VIPs).

    WHSCT and Council Community Hubs are open 7 days per week.  To date we have received 155 referrals to our Call Handling team – 62 from Derry City and Strabane District Council, 6 Causeway Coast and Glens Council and 87 Fermanagh and Omagh District Council.

    WH&SCT Com Hub Update
    Click here to download the above image.


    28/04/2020 Breakdown of testing expansion initiatives

    DEPARTMENT OF HEALTH

    28 April 2020

    Minister gives breakdown of testing expansion initiatives

    Health Minister Robin Swann has issued a detailed breakdown of the expansion of Covid-19 testing in Northern Ireland.

    The expansion includes surveillance testing in general practices and hospitals, as well the increased testing in care homes confirmed yesterday.

    Mr Swann said: “Testing has always been a critical part of our pandemic response. It has been deployed for different purposes as this Covid-19 pandemic has evolved.

    “We are working with a number of key stakeholders and delivery partners across the HSC system, local universities and industry to further expand testing capacity across Northern Ireland.”

    The Minister added: “Testing is not and should never be regarded as a silver bullet. It does not trap the virus or halt its spread. But it is a vital part of our weaponry and will continue to be so.

    “Our approach includes targeted testing of patients in particular health and care settings, as well as testing in the community for surveillance purposes.

    “It is important to reassure patients selected for surveillance testing that this does not necessarily mean they are suspected of having Covid-19 infection. Surveillance testing involves sample testing across groups of patients to help us understand the virus and track its activity.”

    The expansion of testing includes:

    • a programme of testing and surveillance in general practice, which started at the end of last week. This programme will involve testing and data collection for a sample of patients with respiratory symptoms presenting to their GP. These will be patients whose symptoms do not require referral to hospital or to primary care Covid centre. The surveillance testing programme will be based on general practices already involved in the ‘Influenza GP Spotter Surveillance System’.
    • a rolling programme of testing and surveillance in Emergency Departments, which starts this week. This rolling programme will include testing a sample of patients who attend an ED with mild to moderate respiratory symptoms, and who following clinical assessment are deemed not to require admission to hospital.
    • testing of patients who are admitted to hospital for emergency or elective care.
    • testing of all residents and staff in any care home identified as having a potential outbreak or cluster of infection.
    • testing of all patients being discharged from acute hospital care to a care home.
    • testing of all patients/residents being transferred into a care home from any setting, whether that be from hospital, supported living or directly from their own home.
    • The UK-wide staff testing programme has now been extended to cover key workers in other sectors as well as those in health and social care. This testing is available at three drive-through locations in Northern Ireland – SSE Arena car park; City of Derry Rugby Club; Craigavon MOT centre. Trusts are also continuing to provide testing for health and social care staff as part of their in-house testing provision.

    24/04/2020 Western Trust PPE Dashboard and Latest Information

     

    PPE Dashboard 24.4
    Click here to download the above PPE Dashboard.


    24/04/2020 Independent Sector Support Update

    The Trust has established a command and control structure which centres on a single point of contact (SPOC) having been identified for each of the below categories of providers, this process is in line with Department of Health (DoH) instructions in their official guidance to each sector.  This SPOC detail contains contact details for 24 hr 7 day a week support to our Independent Sector Providers;

    • Nursing / Residential Homes
    • Domiciliary Care Providers
    • Supported Living Providers
    • Children’s Residential / Supported Accommodation Providers

    To facilitate the Trust being in a position to support our providers, each provider has been asked to complete a monitoring return to the Trusts Contracts Department on a daily basis.  The Trust are seeking information in relation to COVID / suspected COVID Statistics, bed vacancies, void places, PPE stocks / issues, staff shortages, workforce planning concerns.  All returns are fed onto a sharepoint site for the perusal and consideration of the SPOC for each area.  From the information gathered the Trust SPOC’s can have an overview of presenting issues each day within their specific areas.

    This is information is used to inform the Trust of potential PPE shortages and where support is required, the potential for clusters to emerge in specific Homes and Supported Living environments and also potential identify clustering in the community in regards to Domiciliary Care providers. This information also provides an insight to the Trust on our providers staffing / workforce and can alert the Trust to areas where potential shortfalls may occur and where we may need to support. The Trust SPOC’s are in regular contact with our providers which supplements the facts and figures received daily from our providers.  The Trust are presently providing a weekly supply of PPE to our Domiciliary Care and Residential / Nursing Home Sector.

    The Trust have also develop COVID specific Domiciliary Care Teams within each of our Localities.  The Trust are presently working on developing robust contingency plans in the event of the need arising for Trust staff having to work in Care Home settings.

    Internal Trust processes are continuously being developed to support the emerging needs of our providers – once such pathway is access to Face Fit Testing for our providers in line with PHA guidance on AGP’s.   The Trust have also put in place arrangements for staff within the Independent Sector or their House Hold contacts to avail of testing for COVID19.

    This week plans are progressing for the testing of residents, clients and services users within our Independent Sector and the Trusts finalised processes can be shared with MLA colleagues within our next briefing.  Testing is presently being undertaken within our Nursing / Residential settings at the direction of the PHA based on individual presenting scenarios in relation to potential outbreaks or clusters.

    The Trust meets with the following groupings of providers on a weekly basis;

    • Dom Care Providers – twice weekly
    • Nursing / Residential Home Providers – every Tuesday at 3pm & 4.15pm
    • Supported Living providers (including Children’s) – every Tuesday at 10am
    • Children’s Residential Providers – commending this week on Wednesday at 10am

    These meetings provide our independent sector colleagues with an opportunity to bring any salient issues to the Trust that may not have been expressed through their daily returns.  These meetings also present a great opportunity for the Trust to provide best support to our providers and explore continuity processes.

    Financial Support to Nursing / Residential Home – the Trust have communicated with our providers the regional direction of ensuring financial resilience to these providers for the next three months. Where, as a result of the COVID19 outbreak a nursing or residential care home’s income reduces by greater than 20% below the past 3 months’ average then Trusts will block purchase 80% of the vacated beds at the regional tariff.  The Trust have identified a base value of 90% of the average payment (previous three months) has been calculated uplifted by regional uplift.

    Financial Support to our Domiciliary Care Providers – The Trust are in a different position than regional colleagues as we have successfully tendered this service.  The Trust will communicate with our providers this week advising providers of the Trusts plans to ensure financial resilience in line with the requirements of DoH guidance to Dom Care Providers 10.04.2020 and also taking due regard of PGN 01/20 Supplier Relief during COVID19.

    Financial Support to Supported Living Providers – Trust awaiting regional approach to this grouping of providers and intend to communicate this formally to providers once regional direction is agreed. All providers presently being paid through existing arrangements.


    24/04/2020 – COVID19 Respiratory Services Update

    Coronavirus 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 has undergone a  review of current services to meet both new and existing service needs. As a result there are changes to outpatient services, inpatient services and follow up services as the Respiratory service manages both this new virus AND their longterm  patient population.

    These are the steps we have taken.

    • We have postponed a number of appointments as we did not wish for patients with a respiratory condition to be coming to our hospital. 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.  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. 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 you over this period and that you receive the level of care and support you require from the Western Health and Social Care Trust.


    24/04/2020 Staff Accommodation Update

    As part of the Trust’s surge planning for COVID19 a number of changes to the normal staff residential accommodation service have been implemented.  Staff residing in some of the existing accommodation in facilities such as Harvey Halls and the Nurses Home at Altnagelvin, and Key Worker Block A at SWAH were relocated to hotels or other statutory sector accommodation to provide for isolation residential centres for staff with the COVID19 virus.  Additional accommodation has also been provided for those staff who need to reside on/close to the hospital sites due to the intensity of their work rota and/or due to very vulnerable family members at home.

    The Trust does remain in surge phase and we all remain subject to lockdown and the important public health messaging around social distancing and only essential travel outside home.  All of this effort has helped to flatten the curve and we are delighted that the numbers affected by COVID19, including staffing numbers are not reaching the peak predictions at this time.  This has facilitated the Trust in making an important decision to stand down the use of hotels for our front line health care workers and allow some staff to return to their residences on our sites.

    A minimal level of isolation bedrooms on both the Altnagelvin and SWAH site will be retained.  The Trust will continue to provide accommodation for those who need to be away from home at this time and if this cannot be provided on our sites, then this will be supported by accommodation on the University of Ulster Magee and CAFRE College sites.  Every individual affected by these decisions will be talked to directly and supported through the relocation process which will happen between now and the 3rd May 2020.

    The continued co-operation and support of all staff affected by these and the earlier relocations is very much appreciated as we all continue or efforts to fight this pandemic.


    24/04/2020 Self-Directed Payments Update

    Click here for more information on Self-Directed Payments


    24/04/2020 Contact tracing to help limit second wave of coronavirus

    A new contact tracing programme for Covid-19 to help examine how Northern Ireland can limit the impact of a second wave of the disease is being launched by the Public Health Agency (PHA).

    From Monday 27 April, the PHA will begin a pilot programme of contact tracing which will help inform the planned roll out of Northern Ireland-wide contact tracing.

    Dr Jackie Hyland, Health Protection Consultant at the PHA, said: “The aim of contact tracing is to identify clusters of infection and prevent further spread of Covid-19.

    “The contact tracing in the pilot programme will focus on priority groups within the population where clusters of infection may be presenting. Within the current pilot we will be exploring this with a number of care homes.

    “This involves new ways of working so there is a lot still that we need to learn about the process.

    “We have teamed up with colleagues in the university sector, the Health and Social Care Trusts, and Environmental Health to put in place all the necessary logistics and our thanks to all those who have offered and provided this assistance.

    “As Health Minister Robin Swann announced at the Health Committee meeting on Thursday [23 April], a wider programme of contact tracing will be rolled out across Northern Ireland. The processes tested in this pilot programme will be crucial in helping to shape and implement future contact tracing activity.

    “It’s still important that we also remind people of the part they can play in preventing the spread of coronavirus – adhere to the social distancing guidelines and make sure that you wash your hands regularly. If you do become unwell, telephone your GP, do not attend in person to a medical facility unless advised by a healthcare professional.”


    24/04/2020

    Public Representatives EBrief Issue No 5 on 24/04/2020 (Click Here to view PDF)


    17/04/2020

    Letter To Public Representatives From Trust Board Chairman 17042020


    13/04/2020

    Update on Monday 13 April 2020: Update – Temporary change to local COVID19 testing arrangements:

    Please note the following for your information with regard to a temporary change to local COVID19 testing arrangements. This week, analysis of samples taken in the Western Trust for patients and staff is being carried out at the Regional Virology Laboratory in Belfast.

    This is because delivery of replacement supplies of buffer, an essential test component, has been delayed. We are working to ensure local diagnostics will recommence later this week.

    It is anticipated that there will be no undue delay in turnaround times during this time and the Public Health Agency and other authorities are aware of our current position. The Regional Virology Laboratory in Belfast has confirmed capacity to do these additional COVID19 tests.

    We will notify you when testing returns locally and of any further updates and information as available.


    10/04/2020

    Briefing Session with MLAs and MPs during COVID19 Planning

    Friday 10 April 2020, by Video Conference (Click Here to view Presentation Given)

    Review Brief, Click Here –  10042020 VC Briefing MLAs And MPs


    07/04/2020

    Public Representatives EBrief Issue No 4 on 07/04/2020 (Click Here to view PDF)

  • March 2020

    30/03/2020

    Public Representatives EBrief Issue No 3 on 30/03/2020 (Click Here to view PDF)


    27/03/2020

    Dr Anne Kilgallen – Public Representatives Message – 27/03/2020


    20/03/2020

    Public Representatives EBrief Issue No 2 on 20/03/2020 (Click Here to view PDF)


    13/03/2020

    Public Representatives EBrief Issue No 1 on 13/03/2020 (Click Here to view PDF)


    09/03/2020

    Update on Monday 9 March 2020:

    Please note the following information regarding visiting patients in our Hospitals and Community Facilities, which the Western Trust are issuing on our Social Media Channels:

    • The Western Trust is taking necessary precautions to protect our patients and staff from COVID19 (Coronavirus). We are asking the public not to visit patients in our hospitals and community facilities unless absolutely essential.
    • In relation to outpatient appointments, we would ask where possible, that you attend your appointment on your own. Please practice good hand hygiene when attending your appointment and follow guidance on keeping yourself and others safe: https://bit.ly/2wDHEz1
  • 16/07/2021 Western Trust visiting restrictions in Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals “cautiously” eased with 1-1-1 approach

    Following last week’s pause to visiting and after review by the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust), visiting restrictions at Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals are being “cautiously” eased for the next seven (7) days, between Friday 16th and Friday 23rd July.

    As a result from Friday 16th and initially for a period of seven days, the Trust is adopting a “1-1-1” approach. This means each patient, in both Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals, will be permitted one (1) visitor, for a maximum time of one (1) hour, once (1) in the week.

    The situation will be reviewed again on Friday 23rd July. More frequent visiting in exceptional circumstances, such as at the end of life will continue to be permitted, as will visiting for birthing partners to maternity services, each in a risk assessed way.

    The initial decision to impose visiting restrictions in Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals occurred on Friday 09th July after a significant increase in Covid-19 transmission in the North West community area, resulting in a sharp rise in admissions of Covid-19 patients.

    The pause on visiting arrangements was scheduled for review after a period of one week, and although the North West remains the area of highest community transmission in Northern Ireland hospital admission numbers have remained relatively consistent. Therefore the decision was taken by the Trust to cautiously facilitate visiting again in a phased way.

    Presently the Western Trust has a total of 31 Covid positive patients, with twenty-two (22) in Altnagelvin and nine (9) in the South West Acute Hospital.

    Western Trust Executive Director of Nursing, Primary Care and Older People’s Services, Dr Bob Brown, said: “We are extremely grateful for the public’s understanding regarding our decision to pause visiting in Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals last Friday given the increasing COVID levels and hospital admissions being experienced at that time.

    “We understand that changes to visiting arrangements can cause distress for family members as well as patients, however our first priority will always be patient and staff safety, and this informed the decision we took last Friday. We do recognise the importance of visiting as a means of supporting the wellbeing of patients and have further reviewed our position today”.

    “It is the Trust’s intention to cautiously facilitate visiting again from Friday 16th July, in a phased way, by adopting a 1-1-1 approach.

    “Simply, this means for the next 7 days between, Friday 16th and Friday 23rd each patient in Altnagelvin and Waterside Hospitals will be permitted 1 visitor, for a maximum of 1 hour, on one occasion in that week. More frequent visiting in exceptional circumstances, such as at the end of life will continue to be permitted, as will visiting for birthing partners to maternity services, each in a risk assessed way”.

    “These adjustments come at a time when the Trust continues to deal with the additional pressures facing our Emergency Department teams. As a result we would ask that anyone attending our Emergency Department should attend alone unless they require someone else to accompany them for assistance or support”.

    Speaking about the Western Trusts ongoing Mass Vaccination Programme, Dr Brown continued: “This rise in community transmission in the North West highlights again the massive importance of our Vaccination Programme.

    “Our vaccination teams have already administered over 205,000 Vaccine doses but we must continue to push forward with our efforts.

    “In order to further facilitate everyone to receive the vaccine, we have now made all of our Mass Vaccination Centres walk-in facilities, in addition to pre-booking your vaccine there. We are also now rolling out Mobile Vaccine Walk-In Clinics and I would urge everyone, and in particular those aged 18-29, to come forward now to get your vaccine”.

    “In light of this situation I would ask the public to continue to be vigilant to the risks of COVID-19 spread through adhering to all the Covid-19 guidelines currently in place such as social distancing, wearing of face masks and hand sanitising. Thank you and please continue to work together to stay safe”.

    To find out about how you can get your vaccine at any of the Mass Vaccination Centres or Mobile walk-in clinics, you can visit the Western Trust Vaccination Info page: bit.ly/WTCOVID19Vaccination

    If you are planning to attend one of our Hospitals, facilities or the Mass Vaccination Centres, please do not do so if you:

    • Are currently unwell with a high temperature or fever
    • Have had a first positive test for COVID-19 in the last 28 Days
    • You have been advised to self-isolate
    • Had any vaccine (including flu) in the last 7 days.

     

    Anyone attending any Western Trust Facility or to the Mass Vaccination Centres, or mobile walk in clinics, is reminded to wear a face covering (unless exempt for medical reasons) and adhere to social distancing rules.


If any Public Representatives have any urgent queries please contact the Western Trust’s designated single point of contact, Chris Curran (details below) in the first instance.

We would also ask that you continue to stay tuned to and share our regular official updates published on our Website and Social Media Channels on the following links: Website | Facebook | Twitter | LinkedIn | Instagram | YouTube

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