Royal College of Surgeons visit to the Day Procedure Centre in Lagan Valley Hospital in Lisburn

23rd February 2022

The South Eastern Trust was delighted to welcome the President of the Royal College of Surgeons in England, Neil Mortensen to the Lagan Valley Hospital in Lisburn.

Before the pandemic, Lagan Valley had been identified as a potential site for a Regional Day Procedure Centre for patients who had been waiting a long time for day surgical procedures.

The types of procedures to be undertaken had been agreed, pilots had been undertaken and we were ready to commence as a Regional facility.

However, the pandemic hit and we realised that throughout Northern Ireland, many urgent and suspect cancer procedures were being cancelled due to staffing issues and the need to increase ICU capacity across the region.

This prompted the Trust to reconsider the current activity being undertaken in the DPC and it was agreed that all lists would be converted to priority lists that would be available to the Region for urgent and suspect cancer cases that were appropriate for the facility.

The South Eastern Trust planned to ensure Lagan Valley was a green pathway to minimise the patient’s risk of being exposed to the virus. A separate entrance was provided to the Day Procedure Centre, ensuring that testing protocols were adhered to by patients.

The Assistant Director for Elective Services Chris Allam, says there were a number of hurdles to overcome, “We had to gain the confidence of patients to attend for their procedure during the pandemic. Demand for lists exceeded capacity so we had to ensure there was equity of access for all Trusts across the Region.”

Chris Allam added, “Staff had to be trained to carry out procedures they had never been involved with previously and as the pandemic continued the issue of patients not attending for their COVID-19 swab appointment become a real issue and resulted in lost capacity.”

Chris Allam detailed how since the start of the pandemic, the DPC has provided over 2,000 priority treatments. “These have been in a number of areas including general surgery, urology, gynaecology, ophthalmology and renal. These are procedures that would have otherwise been delayed. As this is a regional initiative, all Trusts have been able to avail of this opportunity and all have participated fully.”

Clinical co-chair of the Regional Day Proedure Network & Consultant Anaesthetist with the Belfast Trust Dr Rosie Hogg stressed, “The dedication and enthusiasm of all of the staff at the Lagan Valley DPC during the last 18 months to deliver timely and high quality care to patients from across Northern Ireland has been remarkable. Regional day procedure centres are an integral part of the transformation of elective surgical care in Northern Ireland to achieve increased efficiency and equality of access to patients from across the region”.

The Day Procedure Centre will eventually revert back to its original purpose which is to provide a regional facility for those patients who have waited an unacceptable length of time for their routine procedure.