- OTS Exclusive: Hospital chiefs unable to confirm when children’s unit will resume normal hours
- The A&E department has now been closed overnight for 4 months
- Children are being taken to Alder Hey by Ambulance in a 40 mile round trip from Southport
Hospital chiefs are unable to confirm when the children’s A+E at Ormskirk Hospital will reopen overnight, four months after the partial closure of the department.
The department has been closed from 10pm to 8am daily since April. Children requiring an emergency ambulance response are currently being taken to Alder Hey during these hours.
S&O NHS Trust says that the temporary closure is “under constant review” and that the department continues to operate normally in all other respects.
When asked by OTS, neither S&O NHS Trust nor North West Ambulance Service were able to confirm how many patients had been diverted during the four-month period.
The department is the main accident and emergency service for a catchment area that include tens of thousands of children.
In April, Trish Armstrong-Child, Chief Executive of Southport and Ormskirk Hospital NHS Trust, said the challenges presented by Covid-19 had forced the temporary closure on the Trust.
The temporary closure also means an ambulance transporting a child in an emergency from Southport must make a 40-mile round trip to Alder Hey, further reducing ambulance cover in the town.
The Trust also confirmed to OTS that it had not made a public statement on the future of the department since April.
A hospital spokesperson said: “The children’s accident and emergency department at Ormskirk hospital temporarily closed between 10pm and 8am daily from Monday 6 April 2020.
“This difficult decision was taken because the Trust could not maintain safe and consistent emergency medical cover overnight while the focus of our staff was on Covid-19.
“Although the number of Covid cases has fallen, the effects of the virus continue to disrupt the work of our clinical teams serving Southport and Ormskirk hospitals. We also need to be able to respond quickly to any increase in hospital cases.
“The Trust keeps the temporary closure of the department under constant review with the support of NHS partners. In all other respects, children’s A&E continues to operate normally.
“Parents who need urgent medical advice overnight should seek advice from NHS 111. In an emergency, always call 999. Ambulance patients are taken directly to Alder Hey children’s hospital in Liverpool.”
The Trust also confirmed that part of the £1.8m government investment for winter protections will be spent on enhanced infection protection measures in the department.
Chief Executive Trish Armstrong-Child said: “We have been planning for winter with Covid since June and this investment further strengthens those plans.
“Our number one priority has, and always will be, the welfare and safety of our patients and staff.
“Covid-19 has significantly disrupted the working life of our hospitals and we have had to radically change how we work to minimise the risk of infection.”
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