Rebuilding Downe Urgent and Emergency Care Services

6th October 2020

The South Eastern HSC Trust has been working to rebuild services in accordance with the Department of Health’s ‘Strategic Framework for Rebuilding Health and Social Care Services’. This has included plans for rebuilding urgent and emergency care.

On 27 July 2020, the Trust set out the planned date for re-opening the Downe Emergency Department (ED) on Monday 19 October 2020, subject to a number of critical factors.

Amongst the most critical factors for opening the Downe ED is workforce availability and the ability to safely deliver urgent and emergency care.   The Trust has always been very clear that we would reopen the Downe ED when it is safe to do so.

Since the end of July 2020, when we made our last statement, we have had further staffing challenges.  Therefore, it is now clear that we are no longer able to fully restore the emergency services provided pre-Covid-19 at this time.  However, the Trust recognises the need to improve access to urgent and emergency care services for the local population in the Down area.

From 19 October 2020, as the next phase of rebuilding urgent and emergency care services, a consultant-led Urgent Care Centre will open in the Downe Hospital’s Emergency Department. This will operate from 8am-6pm, Monday – Friday on an appointment only basis, with nurse-led minor injuries services continuing at weekends from 9am to 5pm. The telephone number for the Urgent Care Centre is 028 4483 8091. Those contacting the service will be triaged and offered an appointment within the urgent care service or directed to the most appropriate service.

This next phase of rebuilding will now provide an Urgent Care Centre which will incorporate and further build upon the Minor Injuries service currently provided at the Downe Hospital.  This service will operate alongside other services including the co-located GP Out of Hours service and a range of multi-disciplinary primary and community care services.

Our rebuilding of services needs to be considered in the context of preparing to enter the winter period and the pressures associated with this every year.  Alongside this, a further surge presents additional challenges in respect of staff availability, whether they have been affected directly by the virus or may be self-isolating due to contact tracing.

The safety of our patients, clients and staff is paramount and this remains the highest priority in rebuilding services including urgent and emergency care.  The only way the Trust is able to deliver a safe urgent and emergency care service in the Downe Hospital at this time, is to introduce an Urgent Care Centre.

The Trust remains committed to the Downe Hospital and understands the importance of delivering urgent and emergency care services to the population in the Down area.  The Downe Hospital will continue to play a vital role in response to the Covid-19 pandemic. All plans will be kept under review and we will continue to communicate with the public and key stakeholders.

The Trust would like to thank staff for their incredible commitment and flexibility shown throughout this pandemic.  We would also like to take this opportunity to thank the public for their continued cooperation and understanding during these challenging times.