Health Minister Simon Hamilton today visited Antrim Area Hospital to see at first-hand how innovative changes are contributing to enhanced, high quality patient outcomes.
The Minister toured the Emergency Department (ED) to see some of the alternatives the staff have put in place to take the pressure away from EDs and improve patient flow. He also used the opportunity to witness the new telemedicine equipment which will allow faster diagnosis of patients arriving at the ED with a suspected stroke.
The Minister said: "There has been significant improvement in emergency care waiting times at Antrim Area Hospital in recent years. This is a credit to the staff in the emergency department, as well as the broader hospital and community settings, who have worked hard to ensure a speedy and safe flow of patients across the system.
"The ED in Antrim Area Hospital has seen steady increase in attendances and admissions and, in particular, there has been a 6% increase in the number of attendances by patients with complex health and social care needs. Many of these are frail elderly patients. This means more people being admitted to hospital resulting in further pressure on the hospital and community system.
"This is one of the reasons why it is so vital to put in place innovative alternatives to attending emergency departments such as the Acute Admissions Unit and the new equipment which will allow increased use of telemedicine in stroke services."
The Minister also toured the hospital’s Acute Assessment Unit which is designed as a support network for primary care and enables GPs to access senior medical advice and consultation directly. The aim of the service is to support primary care and help with increased pressure on current acute services at Antrim Area Hospital.
The Minister said: "Everyone who has a role in the healthcare delivery process has a collective responsibility to bring about and influence change. Often the very best innovation comes from the ground up. From the doctors, nurses and other colleagues working on the frontline, and I want them to have the freedom and indeed responsibility to step forward and drive change.
"Healthcare is complex and challenging and with the added pressures of a growing ageing population, increasing patient expectations and financial constraints amid rising costs we must look to innovation to move forward. Enabling technologies that put the patients at the centre of health care is a fundamental driver of change and one that we must embrace."
Concluding the Minister said: "I want to see a health and social care sector which is accepting of the need for transformation, a willingness to entertain new ideas and to accept change.
"I firmly believe that if we embrace reform, make transformation our purpose and resolve to realise change for the better, then we can overcome the difficulties we face and deliver a genuinely world class health and social care service for the people of Northern Ireland."
Notes to editors:
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