Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

“Ongoing difficulty” recruiting A&E staff may lead to closures

Speculation that the Accident and Emergency Department at Daisy Hill Hospital may be subject to closure at evenings and weekends has been compounded by the revelation from the Southern Trust that it is facing difficulties in the recruitment and attainment of permanent senior medical staff to work in the facility.

The situation was brought to the attention of The Examiner by a member of the public who, through a source in the medical field, learned that there was strong speculation that the local emergency department could close in the evenings and over weekends in the near future.

The Examiner contacted the Southern Trust seeking clarification on the issue.  In a rather evasive response the Trust neither confirmed nor denied the speculation but instead revealed that, despite “numerous recruitment drives” in recent years, it continues to experience “ongoing difficulty” recruiting suitable senior staff.

A statement from the Southern Health and Social Care Trust read: “We are committed to the delivery of safe high quality services from our acute hospitals.  Daisy Hill Hospital, and particularly the Emergency Department, is an extremely busy service and has seen a sustained increase in patients over the last five years. The increase in patient attendances over the last year alone has been 10 per cent – an additional 4,230 patients.

“The Trust’s Emergency Departments at Craigavon and Daisy Hill, like many units locally and nationally, have both encountered ongoing difficulty with the recruitment and retention of senior medical staff required to support the service. The Trust has undertaken numerous recruitment drives over a period of years and continues to do so.

“We are proud of the excellent service which Daisy Hill’s Emergency Department provides.  Ensuring the delivery of safe, high quality care to our patients is and always will be our focus and we are continuing to try to work through this recruitment challenge with all key stakeholders, internal and external to the Trust.”

The statement does little to allay fears that the hospital’s A&E department may be subject to periodic closures if the staffing issues are not rectified soon.