U-turn as DUP urge Health Trust to reconsider Phone First service

A DUP Alderman has urged the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust to reverse their decision to implement a ‘Phone First’ service at Lagan Valley Hospital’s A&E department.

Tuesday, 26th October 2021, 12:03 pm
Alderman Paul Porter

Lisburn south Alderman Paul Porter said the decision by the health trust would be “detrimental” for Lisburn City and surrounding areas.

The change will also see the emergency department’s (EDs) opening times moved from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday to 8am to 6pm on those days.

The proposal for Lisburn and Castlereagh City Council to write to the South Eastern Health Trust to ask them to “urgently reconsider proposed changes”  comes after a similar proposal was rejected last month.

At September’s full council meeting councillors  rejected a motion calling for the council to “express deep concern and opposition to any proposal to introduce a ‘call first’ policy at Lagan Valley Accident and Emergency Department”.

However, at October’s Corporate Services Committee Alderman Porter’s proposal was unanimously agreed at the second time of asking.

The unanimous vote was the result of a U-turn from both Alliance Party and Ulster Unionist Party councillors, on the committee, from the full council meeting.

The ‘Phone First’ service already operates in several hospitals across Northern Ireland – including Downe Hospital and Daisy Hill Hospital.

The service aims to keep over stretched EDs for emergencies, whilst ensuring rapid access, assessment and treatment on a 24/7 basis for patients who need urgent care.

However, Alderman Porter said he had “great concerns” over the proposals and urged them to think again.

He added: “I do not want Lagan Valley A&E hours cut. Likewise, I have great concerns over the Phone First system.

“These are being rushed though and the community must be consulted before change, not after.

“Furthermore, staff need to be allowed the space and freedom to express their concerns. This can still be stopped. I urge other parties to join us in making that demand of the Trust and Robin Swann.”

Meanwhile, Dr Rob Barclay, who is a Consultants in Emergency Medicine at the Lagan Valley Hospital, said the majority of staff at the hopsital ‘understood and support the need for this change’.

“This is an essential change to how we deliver urgent and emergency care in Lagan Valley Hospital,” Dr Barcaly said.

“The result will be a service that is safer, more efficient and continues to meet the needs for the majority of the community we serve. It will direct a small number of people to services that can better meet their needs, first time.

“The Trust remains committed to the Lagan Valley Hospital which is playing a pivotal role during the pandemic.”