Health Minister pays tribute to staff at Downe Hospital

9th March 2022

The Health Minister Robin Swann received a very warm welcome when he arrived at the Downe Hospital in Downpatrick yesterday evening.

Robin Swann was greeted by the Chief Executive of the South Eastern Trust Roisin Coulter and the Director of Hospital Services David Robinson.

Roisin Coulter said she was delighted that the Health Minister took time out of his hectic schedule to meet both staff and patients. The Chief Executive of the Trust added, “The hospital plays a pivotal role in the Trust’s hospital network and provides vital services for the community. It’s great that the Minister is able to see that for himself this evening.”

Robin Swann chatted to consultants and staff  in the Day Procedure Unit where cataract surgery and endoscopies are carried out.

The Cataract Service in the Downe Hospital offers co-located diagnostics and treatment facilities.  Patients can receive pre-assessment, treatment and their post-operative review on-site.  Last month approximately 300 pre-assessments and one-stop pre-surgery checks were carried out at the Downe Hospital.   Operating seven days per week, over 400 cataract operations were undertaken and over 280 post-operative reviews were also delivered.

The Health Minister said: “This has been a very welcome opportunity for me to see the excellent facilities at the Downe Hospital and to meet the dedicated teams who have shown such tremendous commitment to patient care right through the pandemic.”

“Staff have had to adapt at pace to new ways of working and I want to commend them for their hard work and innovative approaches to maintaining and rebuilding services.”

The Minister then visited the Urgent Care Centre which in October 2020 became the first “Phone First” Consultant-led service in the South Eastern Trust area. Dr Catherine Bell explained to the Minister that on average, 1500 people use this successful service every month, ensuring they receive the right care, in the right place, first time.  Before the “Phone First” model was introduced, approximately 20 patients per week had to be transferred to the Ulster Hospital. That figure has now reduced to 2 patients.

Incredibly, in January 2022, 90% of patients were seen in the Urgent Care Centre in the Downe Hospital within 2 hours of arriving and 99% within 4 hours.

Robin Swann also heard details about the busy Minor Injuries Unit which operates in the Downe Hospital every weekend.

Before leaving Robin Swann took the opportunity to visit patients in Ward 1 who were surprised and delighted to chat to the Minister in the Downe Hospital.