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‘Without public understanding’ local hospitals could be under severe strain this winter

Two of the Southern Trust’s major hospitals could be put under untenable pressure with the understanding and co-operation of the public this winter.

That’s the view of MLA Doug Beattie MC, who met with the Trust Chief Executive, in a bid to better under their position heading into another harsh winter.

The Ulster Unionist representative said one of the main issues faced by the Trust, who provide health services for one of the fastest growing populations in Northern Ireland, is the issue surrounding staff.

To that end they recently put in place a recruitment programme and have now recruited an extra 238 domiciliary care workers.

“The Trust have also opened extra beds for those needing hospitalised, streamlined their admissions and discharge processes and more importantly developed alternatives to admission to hospital working on the premise that patients recover faster in familiar surroundings,” Mr Beattie explained.

“This is best viewed through their Older Persons Assessment Unit and the Acute Care at home initiatives as well as an Ambulatory Emergency Care and Direct Assessment Units.

“Where extra beds and extra staffing are welcome the reality remains that without the understanding and cooperation of the public this winter could still be a difficult experience for many who need to avail of the Trust’s services.

“Therefore it is important that the public only visit the emergency department if it is a genuine emergency.

“If someone is hospitalised then when they are free to leave hospital their loved ones should collect them as soon as possible.”

Mr Beattie said it is important to ensure that if you are suffering from the cold, flu, vomiting or diarrhoea that you “avoid visiting the hospital as it could spread infections that may be devastating for vulnerable patients”.

“Winter can be a very difficult time for many and can exacerbate long standing health problems,” he continued.

“However I am hugely encouraged that the SHSCT are taking proactive measures this winter knowing that experiences shows that more people will require admitting to hospital over this four month period that any other time of the year.”

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