09 Dec 2021

Durkan makes Altnagelvin appeal to Health Minister

Over-capacity ensuring hospital is "not fit for purpose" says Foyle MLA

Mark H Durkan

Durkan: Overcapacity at Altnagelvin "is making life even more difficult for the great staff team there who are already overstretched and under pressure."

Foyle MLA, Mark H Durkan, has called on the Health Minister, Robin Swann to address capacity issues at Altnagelvin’s Emergency Department.

Despite the recent investment in Altnagelvin, Mr Durkan argued the A&E infrastructure at the hospital was not fit for purpose.

With Covid rates still at a high level, back on October 7, the hospital, due to an extremely busy night, itself forced to issue a plea to the general public not to come to Altnagelvin unless it really was an emergency.

Operating at over-capacity has now become an unwelcomed norm. Over-capacity is not supposed to go over 85 per cent but it is not unknown for Altnagelvin's level to hit 105 per cent.

Mr Durkan of the SDLP said that while recent investment was to be welcomed, given the increased workload faced by Altnagelvin staff during the pandemic, such funds were only a drop in the ocean and more is need to help the hospital get on top of the current crisis.

He said: “I acknowledge there has been recent investment in Altnagelvin Hospital, however it’s glaringly clear that issues remain with the capacity of its Emergency Department.

“Put bluntly, it is not fit for purpose in this day and age. There is not sufficient space to deal with the volume of patients or an adequate layout to deal with the vulnerability of patients.

“This is making life even more difficult for the great staff team there who are already overstretched and under pressure after an incredibly challenging few years.

“I recognise the financial pressures facing the Department of Health but that doesn’t and shouldn’t detract from the reality of the problems facing staff and patients at the A&E Department.

“The Covid pandemic has served to exacerbate capacity issues and my fear is that it is actually a deterrent for people, especially the elderly, attending hospital.

“Finding the resource to address this problem is essential to ensure Emergency Department is delivering for patients. We need long-term investment in not just our workforce but our capital structures.”

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