‘There are actions we can all take to support our health service’

Date published: 07 March 2022

Health Minister Robin Swann has again appealed to the public to support health workers during the current extreme pressures in health and social care.

Hospital Emergency Departments across Northern Ireland continue to face intense pressures. Other parts of the HSC system are also extremely busy.

The Minister said: “Patients and staff are continuing to experience hugely stressful conditions. The situation in our Emergency Departments is nothing like the service we want to be providing to the public.

“Unfortunately, there is a sustained mismatch between levels of demand for hospital care and the capacity of our health service to provide that care.

“I can set out in detail the long-term plans needed to fix the serious capacity gaps, including ongoing investment in staffing. However, I am keenly aware that this is little comfort in the here and now to either patients or staff.

“The current pressures are due to a number of contributing factors, some but not all of them linked to COVID-19. However, there are actions we can all take to help our health service at this time and reduce pressures on our staff.”

The Minister set out a series of steps that can help make a difference:

  • use hospital services appropriately. If your case is an emergency, then an Emergency Department is the right place for you. If it isn’t an emergency, please use alternatives.
  • co-operate with hospital discharge processes when you are medically fit to leave hospital. That might mean accepting a placement that is not your ideal choice. Hospital is not the place to be if you do not need to be there. The Omicron variant is very infectious and, despite best efforts, is very capable of spreading in health care settings.
  • get your COVID-19 vaccines and booster. There is clear evidence that being up to date with your vaccine jabs significantly reduces the risk of hospitalisation if you catch COVID. Every jab makes a difference and can play a part in easing hospital pressures.
  • be particularly careful when meeting vulnerable people or visiting health or social care settings. Wear a face covering, wash your hands and take a lateral flow test before you go. Omicron might be a relatively mild illness for you. Others may not be so fortunate.
  • respect staff. They have done so much for us in the past two years and are still working tirelessly to provide the best possible care, in extremely difficult conditions.

Notes to editors: 

  1. For media enquiries please contact DoH Press Office by email: pressoffice@health-ni.gov.uk
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  3. The Executive Information Service operates an out of hours service for media enquiries only between 1800hrs and 0800hrs Monday to Friday and at weekends and public holidays. The duty press officer can be contacted on 028 9037 8110.

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