The Health Minister, Edwin Poots, has said the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust may be in a position to extend the opening hours at the Lagan Valley Hospital’s Accident Emergency Department by the autumn.
The Trust reduced the hours at the A&E after it was unable to recruit enough doctors to cover the department at night and during the weekends.
However, Mr Poots said he was confident the hours would be extended by October once the new Emergency Nurse Practitioners were put in place. The Lagan Valley MLA, who said he is committed to the retention of the Lisburn hospital, said: “We are hoping to have Emergency Nurse Practitioners available to ensure minor injuries are dealt with beyond existing hours.
“We are also making progress on co-locating the GP Out of Hours, which includes a further investment of £1 million to ensure patients are dealt with quickly and efficiently.”
The Director of Hospital Services at the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, Mr Seamus McGoran said the Trust was pleased to be able to extend the hours at the Lagan Valley.
“We have recruited Emergency Nurse Practitioners, who are going through training at the moment,” said Mr McGoran.
“We have been having regular meetings with all the staff because we want to make sure app the protocols are in place before the service opens in October.”
Mr McGoran said the new minor injuries service at the weekend would be open from 9am until 5pm, the same opening hours as the minor injuries unit at the Downe Hospital in Downpatrick.
Mr McGoran also said the relocation of the GP out of Hours service was moving forward and should be open by this time next year.
“It is critical that we have received approval for the business case and the integrated service should be completed by this time next year,” added Mr McGoran.