Belfast Telegraph

Altnagelvin hospital suspends 'non-urgent' procedures

Routine inpatient appointments being booked have been temporarily halted at Altnagelvin hospital by the Western Trust.

The hospital has ensured day procedures, urgent cases and cancer treatments are still going ahead. The change will only affect non-urgent procedure appointments.

This move comes after operations were affected last week due to a nursing shortage and vomiting bug. The situation at the hospital is being reviewed daily.

A GP from Londonderry, Dr Simon O'Hagan, told the BBC he was "embarrassed".

He said: "Hospitals are under a lot of pressure and we are feeling the knock-on effect too. The system is broken.

"God help those who are waiting for a procedure at the moment. If it's not life threatening, then you could be waiting years for treatment."

He explained that the move at Altnagelvin could affect physiotherapy patients, those with hearing problems or those who need hernia or gallbladder operations.

"The service is failing us as doctors, nurses and our patients," he said.

"The current waiting time for hip replacements is 161 weeks until the patient will have an appointment and a further 156 weeks before the surgery happens.

"It's an absolute travesty."

At present it is unclear when the current situation regarding the suspension of bookings began and how long it will last.

It has been reported 42 of 302 routine operations scheduled last week had to be postponed, while 260 went ahead as planned.

A spokesperson for the Western Trust said: "The situation at the hospital is reviewed on a daily basis with a view to making best use of our available bed capacity, and to ensure our most clinically urgent patients receive their scheduled operations and treatments."

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