Belfast Telegraph

Reprieve for some patients as thousands hit by strikes in Northern Ireland

Martin Dillon of the Belfast Trust said that about 1,000 elective procedures had been cancelled BBC
Martin Dillon of the Belfast Trust said that about 1,000 elective procedures had been cancelled BBC
Claire McNeilly

By Claire McNeilly

The Belfast Health Trust has revealed details of a limited number of outpatient appointments that will continue as normal this week, despite strike action.

Thousands of appointments and planned surgeries, procedures and admissions have been cancelled today, tomorrow and Thursday.

The Trust has apologised for the "distress and anxiety" caused to patients and their families and said cancelled appointments will be rebooked at a later date.

It said: "The Trust is sincerely sorry for the significant impact this is likely to have on patients, but the safety of our patients is our number one concern."

Members of Unison, the trade union, are taking strike action over what they say are unsafe staffing levels and a lack of pay parity with NHS workers elsewhere in the UK.

The chief executive of the Belfast Trust said more than 10,000 patients will be affected.

However, a limited number of outpatient appointments will go ahead today, tomorrow and Thursday. Belfast Trust outpatient services will run as normal on Wednesday.

The Trust advises:

  • If your appointment is at a Health and Wellbeing Centre, please attend as normal. Appointments at Health and Wellbeing Centres are not affected.
  • If your appointment is at a community facility, please attend as normal, as these are not affected.
  • If you have an appointment for scheduled chemotherapy or radiotherapy treatment at either the Bridgewater Suite or the Cancer Centre at Belfast City Hospital, please attend as normal. Your appointment is not cancelled.
  • If you have an appointment at the Macular Clinic at Fairview, please attend as normal, as your appointment is not cancelled.
  • If you have a paediatric oncology appointment at the Children's Hospital, please attend as normal as appointments are going ahead.
  • If you have an obstetrics or antenatal appointment at the Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital, please attend your appointment as normal.

Belfast Trust said neither emergency services nor day centres are affected by the industrial action.

But all other outpatient appointments, day case procedures, planned surgeries and planned admissions are postponed today, tomorrow and Thursday at the Royal Victoria Hospital, Children's Hospital, Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital, School of Dentistry, Belfast City Hospital, Mater Hospital and Musgrave Park Hospital.

However, all day case procedures, planned surgeries and planned admissions are postponed on the following hospital sites: Royal Victoria Hospital; Children's Hospital; Royal Jubilee Maternity Hospital; School of Dentistry; Belfast City Hospital; Mater Hospital and Musgrave Park Hospital.

Belfast Trust said it "anticipated that all services will be delivered as normal" on Friday.

"The scale and the scope of industrial action we're facing is such that we have to stand down these services in the interests of patient safety," said Martin Dillon of the Belfast Trust, speaking to the BBC.

He confirmed that "about 1,000 elective procedures" had to be cancelled.

Meanwhile, the South Eastern Trust said it is working to put contingency plans in place to minimise disruption.

It advised patients that most services are operating normally. However, routine outpatient appointments at the Ulster Hospital on Wednesday have been cancelled, with the exception of maternity and children's services.

The outpatient departments at the Ulster, Lagan Valley, Downe, Ards and Bangor hospitals, will be closed on Friday afternoon. Day case surgery at Lagan Valley Hospital has been cancelled.

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