22 SEP 2021
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WEEKS AWAY FROM CRISIS

15 September 2021

Daisy Hill Hospital is weeks away from a full-blown crisis as staff struggle to cope with the number of patients being admitted, a leading consultant has warned. 

Dr Gareth Hampton, the Clinical Director of Emergency Care, said the hospital is currently full to capacity and is close to being completely overwhelmed.  

Scores of people lined corridors and Emergency Department (ED) cubicles while waiting on beds when the Reporter was invited to the department on Friday morning. 

In a stark warning, Dr Hampton (pictured) said things are set to get worse unless people get fully vaccinated and continue following health guidelines. 

“We’re beyond capacity - and we’re coping - but the question will be how long we keep coping with that,” he said.

“That’s why we wanted to get this message out because people need to understand; they need to get vaccinated and they need to be very careful how they socialise.

“Unless people, the last 10-15 per cent, get vaccinated, unless people take more care in the community not to spread Covid, and think it’s not going to happen to them, then it’s not going to be a winter crisis; in the next few weeks we will be in a crisis because we are more than full.”

There have been over 1,750 new positive cases in the Newry, Mourne and Down district in the last fortnight. 

Over 200 Covid patients have been admitted into Southern Trust hospitals over the same two-week period. 

Dr Hampton said the vast majority of sick people currently in Daisy Hill are unvaccinated.

He warned that more young people are now falling ill with the virus compared to previous surges.

“The Delta variant means it is much more infectious and easier to get and young people are getting sick if they are not vaccinated,” he said. 

“That’s a big change and people need to understand that the Delta variant is making young people sick and much easier to get. I am seeing young pregnant women really ill with Covid. I am seeing people in their 20s who are being admitted and can’t breathe for themselves. 

“Don’t think just because you are 21-years-of-age and you’re fit and healthy that you won’t take sick. It could happen to you and it is happening to people like you. So, let’s hope they can be persuaded, because if they can’t, they are going to be on my doorstep in three or four weeks’ time and I may struggle to provide treatment for them.”

Dr Hampton said the constant stream of new cases and inpatients is having a physical and emotional impact on healthcare staff.

He said another problem in the weeks ahead is staff shortages.

Through social media, the Southern Trust issued an online plea at the weekend for nurses to come in to work if they were available due to ‘extreme pressure’. 

“I can’t convince someone to come in on a Saturday or Sunday and help me,” adds Dr Hampton. 

“It doesn’t matter if they are getting overtime because they just need to be at home with their families and just need a rest. So that is now a big challenge.”

Dr Hampton also told the Reporter that he would support vaccine passports if it helps decrease rates, would like to see greater and louder leadership from politicians and described those who choose not to be vaccinated without medical exemption as selfish.

 

See pages 8, 9 and 10 for

full interview

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