THE Western Health and Social Care Trust are urging members of the public to only attend the Emergency Department (ED) in the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH) if they require urgent emergency care.

In a media briefing held by The Trust on Monday, October 12, Geraldine McKay, Director of Acute Services at the The Trust, highlighted how the EDs in both the SWAH and Altnagelvin continue to be very busy.

She said: “We are under severe pressure every morning because of the reduced wards and the reduced bed capacity.”

The Trust are therefore appealing to members of the public to consider “alternative pathways”.

“We want the right patients to come to ED – we want patients who need urgent emergency care, those that need immediate treatment, those with severe mental health difficulties, etc.


“Those are the key people we need to attend our EDs and we hope that they continue to do so, but there are [also] patients that we think are alternatives for them,” said Mrs. McKay.

She went on to highlight that community GPs are still working at this time and how community pharmacies are also an alternative option.

“If there’s an alternative, please take it,” she added.

The Trust are also asking that those who need to attend the ED, that they attend alone where possible.

“We can’t have overcrowded waiting rooms so we are asking the public to attend alone or with one person if they need another person with them,” said a Trust spokeswoman.

She also highlighted how patients who have Covid-19 or Covid-19 symptoms, should not attend the ED: “There are alternatives where they can call 111 etcetra and get tested.

“Our emergency departments are not a testing centre and are for emergency and urgent patients.”

At 2.07pm on Wednesday, October 14, the average waiting time to be seen at the Emergency Department at the SWAH was 19 minutes, as per information that is updated hourly.