A council chairman has raised “personal” concerns over A&E waiting times after his own daughter was forced into a 14-hour wait for treatment.
The Southern Health and Social Care Trust identified reasons for the overcrowding problem in emergency departments to a special meeting of Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) this week.
The Trust stated that not being able to discharge patients due to incomplete after care packages at home, was causing wards to be full to capacity for much longer.
This was resulting in patients not being able to be brought up from emergency departments to a hospital bed leading to A&E overcrowding.
The local authority was also told that preparation for a new wave of Covid variants would be required to prevent further major overcrowding this month.
Council chairman, Michael Savage (SDLP) highlighted a “communication breakdown” within the Southern Trust that had caused a two day delay for his daughter suffering from severe abdominal pains.
He said: “I recently had an in-depth personal experience at Daisy Hill and Craigavon Area hospitals by way of family members.
“The medical attention they received in the end was first class.
“However, in one incident we were told to bring a family member from Newry to Craigavon for a dressing change, which I would have thought could have been done locally at Daisy Hill.
“In another my own daughter was brought to A&E with suspected appendicitis and that resulted in an initial seven hour wait in the emergency department, only to be told to come back the next day.
“Then, that was another seven hours in paediatric A&E which then led to an overnight stay in hospital.
“My insight is, that if it is not working, then I should flag it up, but I was dealing with my daughter at the time.
“While I welcome the recent news of elective surgery being brought to Daisy Hill, will emergency surgery now be lost?
“Should we be looking more at cross border collaboration as there are many great opportunities to develop for the future.”
CEO of the Trust, Dr Maria O’Kane alluded to “hard and fast” changes required in the health system.
She said: “People should definitely not be brought to Craigavon from Newry for change of dressings, as the vast majority should be done at the GP surgery.
“I am very sorry to hear that there was a communication breakdown and this will be fed back into the system and acted upon.
“As far as cross border co-operations is concerned, we are held by the laws of Northern Ireland.
“Any future collaboration would require legislation to be made and would need a framework to do it.”