Ulster Unionist East Antrim Assemblyman Roy Beggs MLA has outlined his disappointment at the news that Whiteabbey Minor Injuries Unit is to temporarily close. The MLA had posed a question to the Health Minister, before the announcement was made, pressing for increased provision at the hospital.
Roy Beggs MLA said “What plans has he (the Health, Social Services and Public Safety Minister) to minimise waiting times at the Emergency Department in Antrim Area Hospital, given that waiting times are normally exceeded as a result of winter pressures; and whether he will increase provision at Whiteabbey Hospital Minor Injuries Unit.”
In response, Minister Wells states “I look to the Health and Social Care Board to work with the Health and Social Care Trusts to ensure that effective plans are in place to respond to anticipated winter pressures on emergency departments.
The Northern Health and Social Care Trust is taking steps to address emergency care pressures and prepare for winter. Over the last 18 months the Trust has put additional measures in place to improve the flow of patients through Antrim Area Hospital including opening up alternative access routes for patients such as the Acute Assessment Unit and rapid access to diagnostics pathways. Significant development has also taken place within community services to reduce unnecessary admissions to hospital and to ensure safe and efficient discharge pathways. A programme of work is currently under way involving senior clinicians and managers to systematically improve the unscheduled care service and improve care delivery across primary, secondary and community care settings.
As part of the Northern Trust’s contingency plan, Whiteabbey Minor Injuries Unit will close temporarily. The Trust will put in place alternative arrangements to maintain safety and ensure patient flow.”
In response, East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs said “I hope the temporary closure at Whiteabbey will not be as temporary as the temporary closure at the City Hospital A&E is turning out to be. The City Hospital Accident and Emergency facility remains closed, 3 years after a similar temporary closure announcement.”