The South Eastern Trust Board Approves New Model of Urgent & Emergency Care in the Ards & North Down Area

28th June 2023

The South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust Board has approved the proposal to deliver a new, 7 days a week Consultant led Urgent Care Centre, alongside the new Emergency Department at the Ulster Hospital.

The decision follows a 12 week consultation on the future model of emergency care in the Ards and North Down area, which included both public and online events.

The Trust Board‘s recommendation will now be considered by the Department of Health, in line with its policy and guidance on change or withdrawal of service. The final decision rests with the Department of Health.

If approved, a new and improved service would be based at the Ulster Hospital, replacing the Minor Injury Unit (MIU) at Ards Community Hospital and the Minor Injury Unit at Bangor Community Hospital. The Bangor unit was closed on a temporary basis in 2020 due to the COVID-19 pandemic. This closure will be made permanent under the proposals endorsed today by the Trust board.

As detailed in the public consultation, the initial phase of the plans would see the opening of a Minor Injury Unit 8am-6pm, 7 days a week at the Ulster Hospital site.

The Ards Community Hospital, less than five miles away, currently operates 9am-5pm Monday to Friday.

The second phase of the service change involves provision of a full Urgent Care Centre 8am-8pm, 7 days a week, co-located with the new Emergency Department in the Ulster Hospital’s Acute Services Block.

The South Eastern Trust’s Medical Director Charlie Martyn said, “Clinical staff in the Trust are very clear that the creation of an Urgent Care Centre at the Ulster Hospital, would provide the population with a more comprehensive service than is currently available at the Ards Minor Injury Unit, as well as helping to improve patient flow through the Emergency Department at the Ulster Hospital. This would be a more sustainable model of care in the future.

“Having a new Consultant led Urgent Care Centre, co-located with the new Emergency Department at the Ulster Hospital, would also really benefit patients as it would give them easier access to medical assessment and clinical investigations, if required, on the same site.

“I would like to thank our staff in both Ards and Bangor Minor Injury Units for the excellent care and service they have provided to the community.”

The Trust remains committed to both the Ards and Bangor Community Hospitals. They will continue to deliver a wide range of Primary and Community Care Services for the local population.

We would like to thank the public, our partner organisations and elected and community representatives for their continued understanding and for the support offered to our dedicated and committed staff as they continue to work tirelessly to protect and care for our community.

The Feedback Report from the Public Consultation is available here.