MP urges public to ‘Phone First’ before attending A & E

With unprecedented pressures on Craigavon A & E over the weekend, with ambulances being diverted away from the hospital, DUP MP Carla Lockhart has urged the public to use the ‘Phone First’ system before making their way to Accident and Emergency.

By Carla Lockhart Candidate

Upper Bann

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Carla Lockhart said:

“Over the weekend we witnessed the most extreme pressure on our A & E Department at Craigavon Area Hospital. First and foremost, I want to thank the front-line staff who were working under the most challenging conditions. They are worn out, mentally and physically exhausted, yet continue to deliver the best possible care for those in need.

We all have a responsibility to do what we can to alleviate these pressures. With an increase in COVID inpatients, the message must be to follow all guidance and regulations to try to reduce transmission of the virus. Social distancing, face masks, and of course vaccination and booster jabs can all help to reduce the COVID cases in our community. We can all help in this regard by doing the right thing.

We also need people to avail of the ‘Phone First’ system, and ring ahead before attending A & E. This can help direct patients to the most appropriate care for their health need and ensure those attending A & E are those who need to attend A & E, rather than a GP or other service.

I would also encourage the Trust to see what they can do to address public frustration with access to some GPs and out of hours services. These services are vital in keeping people away from Accident and Emergency, but for this to be effective we need to see easier access to the family doctor in practices where this is proving difficult, and out of hours.

Working together the public and the Trust, with the right support from the Department of Health, can overcome these challenges but we need to all do what we can to help. We owe it to the staff to do this and to ease the pressures on our health service as soon as possible. I plan along with DUP colleagues Diane Dodds MLA and Jonny Buckley MLA to meet the Trust in the coming days to discuss how this collaborative approach can be actioned.”

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