Pressure remains extremely high in emergency departments and across hospital services, says Dr. Bob Brown

The pressure remains extremely high in the Western Health Trust emergency departments and across all hospital services.

Dr Bob Brown Director of Primary Care and Older People’s Services/Executive Director of Nursing.
Dr Bob Brown Director of Primary Care and Older People’s Services/Executive Director of Nursing.

That’s the message Dr Bob Brown Director of Primary Care and Older People’s Services/Executive Director of Nursing gave to members of Derry and Strabane’s Health and Community Committee.

Noting that bed occupancy on Thursday (November 11) was 93% in Altnagelvin and 98% in South West Acute, he said: "It's a very challenging situation overall and as we move into December and as we all know Christmas and the first two weeks of January are the most difficult weeks of all for services.”

Turning to the Covid situation, Dr Brown informed Members over a seven day period there had been a ‘very slight 4% reduction’ in the number of people who have tested positive for Covid in the Derry and Strabane area.

He added: “In our hospitals today (Thursday) we have 64 people who have been admitted with Covid and again that’s a situation which fluctuates but it has been relatively stable in the last couple of months.”

The Executive Director of Nursing explained that it is anticipated that ‘Covid will continue to present significant challenges for at least the next year’.

He added: “Critical Care is one of our key risk areas both in Altnagelvin and South West Acute. Covid will continue to present significant challenges and throughout all that time there will be peaks and troughs in terms of the numbers and sadly there are a significant number who continue to require Intensive Care.”

Members heard that the Trust are running more of their normal services than in previous surges. However, the region is very close to capacity.

Asking for the council and the public’s support to help minimise the transmission of Covid, Teresa Molloy, the Trust’s Director of Performance & Service Improvement said: “In the West our second wave of Covid began in late September last year and we had two peaks of Covid in our hospitals particularly in that wave, one in October and one in January.

“The third wave began at the end of August/early September and our peaks of Covid bed usage in our hospital services have varied.

“Across the Trust in our hospitals we had 52 people at the peak in wave one and we went up to 129 people in our hospitals who were Covid positive in wave two in January of this year. So you can see how difficult it has been to manage and run services in those periods.

“During wave two and wave three we have not stood down services in the way we did in wave one. We have attempted to rebuild our capacity but that’s been tremendously difficult given the uncertainty and the continuation of Covid across our communities and the effects on our services.

“We would ask for public support and council’s support in the help to minimise the transmission of Covid in line with public health guidance and also ask that the population strives to be vaccinated and receive their booster if that’s appropriate going into this winter period.”