ANTRIM Area Hospital has unveiled its new multi-million pound Emergency Department.
The £9.2 million building became fully operational today, Wednesday June 26th.
The Northern Health and Social Care Trust says the new department will offer state of the art emergency facilities which will add to a recent £5million investment into a 24 bedded unit and a new Medical Records department.
It has been built to facilitate up to 90,000 attendances per year and at 2450m² is over twice the size of the current department.
Welcoming the opening of the building, Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “The construction of this new emergency department and ward marks the beginning of a new era for Antrim Area Hospital.
“These modern facilities will ensure that patients have improved access to safe, sustainable services for the long term.”
The new Emergency Department is said to be equipped with the latest innovations in design and technology to provide patients with high quality, safe services.
It will include a dedicated waiting area for children; triage; examination rooms; minor injuries unit; majors (Adult & Paediatrics); ambulatory care; resuscitation beds; an X-ray suite; CT scanner and isolation facilities plus a full range of supporting accommodation. There are also designated rooms for gynaecology; neck and head injuries and bariatric patients.
Additional nurses have been recruited to help staff the department and familiarisation training has been taking place over the last number of weeks.
But it’s opening has been marred by a critical welcome from two top health unions here.
The union for doctors in Northern Ireland, BMA, has warned the new emergency department at Antrim Area Hospital is not enough to solve its current problems.
However the union welcomed the opening but said a range of other measures must also be in place to ensure patients are seen promptly.
The Royal College of Nursing (RCN) also welcomed “the change of environment in the emergency department” but said there had been “significant problems” at Antrim Area hospital in recent times.
Acknowledging the challenges and opportunities ahead for the Northern Trust, the Minister said: “I recently announced the appointment of two senior executives to the Northern Health and Social Care Trust to lead on the next stages of turnaround in order to improve performance in critical areas of service delivery, particularly in Emergency Department waiting times.
“I remain committed to avoiding long waits at all the Emergency Departments in Northern Ireland and I believe that this new facility will ensure that patients who need the service get access as quickly as possible.
He continued: “I would like pay tribute to the nurses, doctors, and other healthcare and ancillary workers and administration staff who have worked tirelessly in sometimes very difficult conditions to provide the best care possible for the people of this area.
“This new facility will provide for all staff to deliver a better service to the public in the future.”
He concluded: “I am confident that we are on the right path to developing a health and social care service which will be sustainable into the future – one which focuses on meeting the needs of our local communities and individual patients and service users.”