Ten permanent emergency department consultants should be appointed at Daisy Hill Hospital in the next five years.
That is what is being seen as a realistic goal, according to the hospital’s so-called ‘Pathfinder Project’.
It was established to meet and report on efforts to provide cover at the hospital after earlier fears the emergency department should be axed due to lack of staffing.
There has been a major turnaround already.
The project delivered what is described news of positive and “significant progress” on securing urgent and emergency health care for the Newry and Mourne area.
The information was related to this week’s Southern Trust Board meeting.
Dr Anne-Marie Telford, chair of the Pathfinder Project, outlined the “positive and innovative work being undertaken to support Daisy Hill Hospital”.
Working groups – with representatives from the community, alongside medical, nursing, managerial, non-clinical and staff-side members – have been developing plans in three key areas: Emergency department workforce; Rapid access/ambulatory services; and “strengthening services for the sickest patients”.
The workforce group has outlined an emergency department staffing model, which aims to increase permanent ED consultant numbers from the current two to five by 2019, and to double that to 10 by 2022.
There are plans for a new Direct Assessment Unit, a significant new service adding benefit to patients, their families and GPs. It would provide direct advice and support to GPs and same day clinical management.
Experience in other similar units is that up to 70 per cent of patients seen may be discharged home the same day.
There is also a proposal for an enhanced High Dependency Unit in Daisy Hill to provide care to seriously ill patients.
Welcoming the updates, Dr Telford said: “There has been a lot of positive engagement and regional support to secure urgent and emergency care in the Newry and Mourne area.
“These proposals will be forwarded to the Department of Health for consideration and approval. Resources to implement these proposals need to be agreed through existing formal processes.
“While challenges remain, the ED is in a much more stable position than it was at the startof the year. We look forward to sharing our recommendations with the Department and continuing to working closely with colleagues in the Department, Health and Social Care Board and the Public Health Agency, who have been supporting us through the process.”