COVID19 Changes to Services

Patients will be contacted directly by the Trust with regard to any cancellations or changes to already scheduled appointments. Patients should note that they may be contacted by a ‘withheld/private number’. 

As health and social care divert resources to care for COVID-19 patients, health service activity across Northern Ireland will be significantly curtailed.


  • Attending Imaging Appointments during COVID19

    Attending imaging appointments during Covid-19

    During the first surge of Covid-19 in March 2020, there was a regional temporary suspension of Routine Imaging across Northern 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.

    There has been a reduction in the number of Radiology appointments compared with pre-Covid-19 levels and the 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 and additionally the Trust is working to utilise any available Independent Sector capacity in Ballykelly,.

    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 is a temporary arrangement to avoid long waits for patients referred for imaging and, most importantly, the associated risks with delays in diagnosis.

    Importance of early diagnostic tests

    It is very important that patients 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, Enniskillen

    The Trust has been planning for additional MRI scanning capacity on the South West Acute Hospital 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.

  • Cancellation of Elective Procedures and Clinics

    08/01/21

    The 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.

    Numbers are expected to steadily increase throughout January and possibly into February, putting extreme pressure on the hospital system, including our workforce.

    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 absence of 11% and increasing daily mean 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.

    Read full statement here

  • Maternity Services

    Altnagevlin Hospital

    One nominated partner may accompany a woman attending for the following scan appointments:

    • Dating Scan
    • 19 week Anomaly Scan
    • 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.

    South West Acute Hospital

    One nominated partner may accompany a woman attending for the following scan appointments:

    • Dating Scan
    • 19 week Anomaly Scan
    • 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.

  • Breast Screening Programme Postponed

    The NHS Breast Screening Program has now officially been postponed for an initial 3 month period as directed by the Director of PHA.

    Anyone who has an appointment we ask that you contact us to ensure we have up to date contact details.  This also applies to anyone under surgical review and Family History programs that get annual mammograms.

    Breast Screening Contact Information

  • Health Visiting Parent Helpline

    Please continue to contact your Health Visitor if you have a concern about your child’s health and development, a query regarding an infant feeding issue or would like advice on your own health.⁣

    In the event you cannot access your family Health Visitor please call our helpline on the numbers below⁣

    • Enniskillen Area: 078 2519 6981⁣
    • Omagh Area: 028 8283 5555⁣
    • Londonderry/Limavady/Strabane: 075 5717 4129⁣

    Lines are open from 9.00am to 5.00pm

  • Adult Learning Disability Services

    12/10/20 – Short Break Provision in Derry/Londonderry

    The Trust’s Adult Learning Disability Service has been experiencing increased levels of COVID19 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 COVID19 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.

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    All Adult Learning Disability Services Day Centres and Day Opportunities across the Western Trust are closed until further notice, to help us protect our vulnerable clients and their families.

    We are following guidance from the Public Health Agency to reduce the transmission of COVID19 and adhering to social distancing measures to help reduce the social interaction between people.

  • Social Workers in Fermanagh Area

    Due to significant staffing challenges as a result of COVID-19 within social work services across the Fermanagh area there will be a temporary change to the availability of the duty social worker with the Enniskillen, Irvinestown and Lisnaskea offices.

    The duty worker will be available to take calls between 10.00am -11.00am and 3.00pm-4.00pm on the following numbers;

    • Enniskillen 02866327789.
    • Lisnaskea 02866344049
    • Irvinestown 02866382718

    Members of the public should continue to access their designated social worker in the usual manner. This step has been taken to ensure that core social work services can be maintained during this challenging time and will be reviewed on a regular basis. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.

  • Carers of People with Dementia

    Click here for a  guide to support carers and staff caring for people with dementia

    Information and advice provided by the Alzheimer’s Society – click here

  • Changes to Respiratory Services

    COVID-19 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 COVID-19 pandemic, the Respiratory Service in the Western Trust has undergone a review of current services to meet both new and existing service needs. There are changes to outpatient services, inpatient services and follow up services as the Respiratory Service manages both this new virus and their long-term patient population.

    Click Here for more information.