Roy Beggs MLA, together with Party Leader Robin Swann MLA, Steve Aiken MLA & John Stewart MLA met with Dr Tony Stevens Chief Executive of the Northern Health & Social Care Trust (NHSCT) to discuss the current health pressures. Local UUP Councillors Stephen McCarthy and Andrew Wilson also attended.
Roy Beggs, UUP Health spokesperson said “From constituents who have contacted me, I am aware of the considerable pressures that health staff have been facing and have been striving to meet the growing healthcare needs of patients. We were advised that with the ageing population, there had been a significant increase in visits to Antrim A&E and also an increase in A&E patients requiring admission to hospital. With a 98% hospital bed occupancy rate achieved at Antrim, which has comparable hospital length of stays, it is evident that the NHSCT could not have coped with the proposed Whiteabbey rehabilitation ward closures which were considered in November ‘17. The Trust indicated that they have had to secure additional care beds in nursing homes to assist patients moving from Antrim Hospital back to the community, releasing acute beds for other patients.
“We were advised of efforts to attract critical consultant staff and the need for additional qualified nurses to fill approximately one hundred vacant nursing posts at Antrim Area Hospital. Clearly there needs to be better workforce planning within the health system.”
“I took the opportunity to highlight current pressures on our GP’s and delays in diagnostics which is resulting in additional patients unnecessarily choosing to visit A&E to assist in getting a diagnosis. I also highlighted the need for investment in primary healthcare services covering Carrickfergus, Larne & Newtownabbey so that our GP’s and allied health professionals would be better enabled to provide healthcare outside of a hospital setting.
Roy Beggs concluded “ East Antrim does not have an A&E, nor a Minor Injuries Unit. To date, we have not even received investment in modern health and care facilities to assist our primary healthcare services. I understand that in the past number of years, less than 10% of health capital expenditure has occurred in the NHSCT area. We have not been receiving our share of health investment.” Roy Beggs MLA has recently written to the Department of Health Permanent Secretary highlighting that East Antrim health care staff and patients deserve modern facilities and diagnostic services, just like all other parts of Northern Ireland.