'Phone first' consultations to take place at Lagan Valley Emergency Department

Lagan Valley Hospital. Credit: UTV

A new 'phone first' system is being introduced at Lagan Valley Hospital's Emergency Department (ED) from Monday.

The South Eastern Trust says the move is "due to the extreme challenges being faced at present" within the health service.

An eight week public consultation will also begin shortly to consider the views of the community.ED's have been under a substantial amount of pressure for months now with some hospital's asking people only to attend in cases of medical emergencies.

The South Eastern Trust says the most significant challenge is a shortage of suitably qualified emergency medicine doctors, which it's 'actively trying to recruit'.

Consultant in Emergency Medicine at Lagan Valley, Dr Rob Barclay says the introduction of the service is needed.“This is an essential change to how we deliver urgent and emergency care in Lagan Valley Hospital," he said.

"The result will be a service that is safer, more efficient and continues to meet the needs for the majority of the community we serve. It will direct a small number of people to services that can better meet their needs, first time."

The operational hours will change from 8am to 8pm Monday to Friday to 8am to 6pm Monday to Friday. The number to call is 028 92 604643.