An extra 238 domicillary care staff have been recruited by the Southern Health Trust in a bid to help alleviate Winter strain on services.
Trust Chief Executive Shane Devlin, warned of some major challenges with a UK-Wide shortage of medical and nursing staff combined with the growing demand for hospital beds.
He said: “The Southern Trust has one of the fastest growing populations in NI and the number of people attending our emergency departments and Minor Injuries Unit has increased by 20% in the last five years.
“The Trust is working to open extra beds; ensuring our patient journey through the hospital is as efficient as possible and managing planned surgery to limit the number of last minute cancellations.
“We have also done a lot of work in recent years to develop alternatives to hospital admission as there is a lot of evidence that people recover faster in familiar surroundings - the new Ambulatory Emergency Care Unit and Direct Assessment Unit, the Older Person Assessment Unit and Acute Care at Home are just some examples of this work.
“I am asking people to work with us this winter by not coming to the Emergency Department unless it is an emergency and to take friends/ relatives home from hospital as soon as possible after discharge. Also please don’t come to any of our hospitals/facilities if you (or anybody else in your house) have cold/flu, vomiting, diarrhoea and infections.”