History is made as New Hospital opens to Patients
History was made today as Northern Ireland’s newest major acute hospital (the South West Acute Hospital) opened its doors to patients for the first time.
It signals a new chapter in the history of healthcare for hundreds of thousands of patients in the Fermanagh and Tyrone area who are set to benefit from the new hospital.
The new £276million hospital project started in 2006 and took six years to complete from planning to building to handover. It was completed on time and within budget.
Health and social care services at the new hospital will be provided by the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust). The Trust’s PFI partner, the Northern Ireland Health Group (NIHG) through their maintenance and management service partner Interserve FM will maintain the building under contract for the next 30 years.
Doctors, nurses and the local community have worked closely together to help design and create a unique patient environment seen nowhere else in Northern Ireland. The outcome of all their hard work has created a new hospital that meets the clinical needs of patients, offers better privacy and protects patient dignity for generations of new patients to come.
Western Trust Chief Executive, Elaine Way said: “The opening of this new hospital is a very exciting time for staff, patients and the wider community. The hospital is now officially open and we are committed to providing high quality care in this tremendous new facility. I would like to thank everyone involved in making this the huge success it is - the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety, the Health and Social Care Board, Northern Ireland Health Group and the literally hundreds of Western Trust staff at all levels and volunteers who have worked tirelessly to make this happen and get the hospital ready on time.”
As a result of meticulous planning by staff with the support of the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service (NIAS) and key stakeholders patient numbers were safely reduced over recent days which enabled the safe and seamless transfer of patients to the new hospital today.
Seventy eight patients moved from the former Erne hospital into the new hospital today for the first time. The Erne hospital which was built in the 1960s closed its doors for the last time at 12.30pm today as the final patients moved across to the new hospital.
The patient move itself was one of the most complex undertaken in Northern Ireland for over 22 years. It involved hundreds of Trust staff, Ambulance staff and volunteers and took a total of just over 5 hours to complete.
Dr Jim Kelly, Consultant Geriatrician and Lead Clinician for the South West Acute Hospital, Western Trust added: “I am incredibly proud of what staff have achieved during today’s move, which marks a new and exciting chapter in the history of health services in the South West. We will always recognise the immense contribution the Erne Hospital has made to the community over the years and we are mindful of this. Excitement though has taken over as staff look forward to providing services in our new hospital.”
At almost three times the size of the old Erne Hospital and at 65,000 square metres, the new hospital is one of the best-equipped in Europe. All of the ward accommodation will be provided in single rooms with en-suite facilities.
Joe Lusby, Deputy Chief Executive for the Western Trust, said: "It has the space and technology to future proof services for the South West but it also adds to the patient experience which will enhance patient outcomes."
It was a day of firsts all around with the first baby born at the new hospital. The first baby born at the new hospital was baby Shea Maguire. Baby Shea was born at 7.29am and he weighted 8lbs 8oz.
Frank Orr, Area Manager with the NIAS commenting on the move said: “We have been planning the move along with our Trust colleagues for a number of months now and I am pleased to report that the patient transfer has been successfully completed. A fleet of ten NIAS vehicles and two Trust vehicles was used to transport seventy-eight patients between the two sites. The move started at 6.45am this morning and was completed at 12.30pm well ahead of schedule.”