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Woman sitting in Daisy Hill corridor for four nights as Trust describes pressures ‘on a scale probably never seen before’

Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry

A young woman had to sit in a corridor in Daisy Hill Hospital for four nights as the Southern Health Trust has described the current pressures “on a scale probably never seen before”.

The situation got so bad over the last weekend, despairing staff contacted one MLA to come and visit to see for himself.

Justin McNulty said overcrowding was pushing both patients and staff to breaking point.

One 20-year-old was sitting in the corridor for four nights in a row, he told Armagh I.

“Staff, patients, and families are beyond exasperated with the reality that ‘corridor wards’ have become commonplace,” said the Newry and Armagh representative.

“I visited the emergency department after staff members asked me to come and witness what they are up against. I have seen crowded corridors before, but I was horrified to see that the coffee dock had been closed and was being used as a makeshift ward with no privacy.

“Patients are being lined up head to toe on trolleys in the corridors, and many of them have been there for days on end – one nurse joked that they are going to need bunk beds next. Patients and their families are being stripped of their dignity, and staff’s hearts are broken.

“I know, without a shadow of a doubt, that frontline workers are keeping things moving despite the extraordinary pressure on them. I know this because the family of a young girl at 20 years of age, who had been sitting in a chair in the corridor for four nights in a row, have told me that the care and compassion they received from staff was second to none. They commented that they don’t know how the staff keep going, and keep going with such grace and kindness.

“The first step towards fixing a problem is admitting you have one. And we have one. But let’s be crystal clear here – this problem has not been brought about by the hospital staff who are worked off their feet but told they don’t deserve a pay lift. It hasn’t been brought about by patients and families, local people, or hospital campaigners who believe in and support Daisy Hill Hospital. This problem has been brought about by a top to bottom failure of government.

“This chaos cannot go on. We need Stormont restored and an Executive back in place to finally begin tackling the issues in our health service head on. The Pontius Pilate approach will no longer work – washing hands off the problem and passing the buck is not acceptable. It’s time for political parties to get real, get a hold of this problem, and provide our health service with the support it needs to get back on track.”

A spokesperson for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said “the current pressures on our hospital and community services are on a scale probably never seen before”.

The spokesperson added: “Our staff are working very hard in extreme circumstances to protect the safety and dignity of services for patients. With our limited space and resources, this volume of sick patients makes it an increasingly difficult daily challenge.

“Regrettably we are at times having to use extra trolleys, chairs and beds in our EDs, wards and any extra space within in our hospitals, sometimes resorting to corridors and other non-clinical areas, to try and cope the demand to accommodate many more patients than we have capacity for.

“Whilst this is not the standard we want in providing services and it is distressing for staff, our priority remains in providing the best possible care and treatment to patients.

“We are doing everything we can to reduce pressure on our busy Emergency Departments. We are continuously working to improve our range of community services, unscheduled care and same day emergency care services to avoid hospital admission and improve patient flow where possible.

“We welcome public support in ensuring that the sickest patients get the care they need.

“It is essential that patients leave hospital and families support with discharge as soon as their loved one is medically fit, where they can. There is another sick patient, possibly on a trolley or chair in the ED who needs the bed on a hospital ward. This may mean accepting an alternative package or care home placement while waiting for a preferred longer term option.

“Research shows that an extended hospital stay can cause deconditioning, reduce independence, increase the risk of confusion, falls and infection. We ask patients and families to please work with our fantastic rehabilitation teams who are leading on the drive to keep patients mobile and independent during their hospital stay to ensure that they can return home quickly as soon as medically fit and get the most out of life.

“Only come to our EDs if you have serious symptoms that need hospital care and phone 999 if the patient is acutely unwell.”

If you are coming to ED, please protect yourself, other patients and staff by wearing a face mask.

Phone first (Monday to Friday 9am to 9pm) before travelling to our EDs or Minor Injuries service with less urgent symptoms. Tel: 0300 123 3 111.

Consider if your condition could be treated by your pharmacist or GP. If symptoms cannot wait until your GP reopens, call Urgent Care (GP) Out of Hours Tel: 028 3839 9201.

For help choosing the right service:…/how-use-your-health-services…/illnesses-and-conditions

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