New 'Phone First' System Announced At Lagan Valley Emergency Department

Lagan Valley Hospital has announced the introduction of a new 'Phone First' system for their Emergency Department (ED) from Monday 18 October.

The number to call is (028) 9260 4643.

Alongside this, the South Eastern Trust facility, will also reduce its ED operational hours, with the ED changing from 8am – 8pm Monday to Friday, to 8am – 6pm Monday to Friday.

The hospital said that the emergency change to opening hours, which will be regularly reviewed, is due to the extreme challenges being faced at present. The most significant of these challenges is a shortage of suitably qualified emergency medicine doctors, which the Trust is actively trying to recruit, alongside severe pressures presented by the ongoing impact of COVID-19.

The 'Phone First' system has been implemented across the Region and is already operating successfully in both the Urgent Care Centre at the Downe Hospital and at Ards Minor Injury Unit. Crucially, this service will ensure patients, who will be assessed by a senior clinician over the phone, receive the right care, first time.

Currently, an average of 12 patients attend the Emergency Department at Lagan Valley Hospital daily between 6pm and 8pm.
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The hospital said: "We anticipate that 90% of all those who phone will continue to be seen in Lagan Valley or given appropriate clinical advice over the telephone. For the remaining 10%, where it is not appropriate to attend Lagan Valley, they will be directed to their local Pharmacy, GP or to a more appropriate Acute Hospital Emergency Department.

"This service will ensure the safety of our patients by reducing the number who require transfer to an alternative Hospital for care, thereby reducing delays in patient care.

"In cases of serious emergency, such as life-threatening conditions including chest pain, symptoms of stroke or serious head injury, patients should continue to phone 999 immediately.

"The majority of our staff understand and support the need for this change."

A Consultant in Emergency Medicine at the Lagan Valley Hospital, Dr Rob Barclay said: "This is an essential change to how we deliver urgent and emergency care in Lagan Valley Hospital. The result will be a service that is safer, more efficient and continues to meet the needs for the majority of the community we serve. It will direct a small number of people to services that can better meet their needs, first time."

An eight week public consultation will also begin soon to consider the views of the community we serve.

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