The Northern Ireland Department of Health (DoH) has approved South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust’s proposal to uplift the urgent and emergency care services.

The initial phase of this work will involve the development of a consultant led Minor Injury Unit (MIU) at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald in County Down, Northern Ireland.

This MIU will operate between 8am and 6pm throughout the week.

Once established, the new MIU will replace the existing MIU at Ards Community Hospital and MIU at Bangor Community Hospital, which has been temporarily shuttered since 2020.

The Ards Community Hospital unit, located around five miles away from Ulster Hospital, is open Monday to Friday from 9am to 5pm.

In the second phase of the project, the Trust has will build a full Urgent Care Centre alongside Ulster Hospital’s new Emergency Department.

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The clearance from DoH was conveyed via a letter from Permanent Secretary Peter May to the Trust’s CEO Roisin Coulter.

In the letter, May said: “Among the considerations I have taken into account are the improvements which the change will bring. The merged Minor Injury Unit will be open seven days a week for longer hours and will be doctor led which will expand the range of conditions that can be treated.

“The Trust’s plans will also pave the way for delivery of an Urgent Care Centre in due course after the necessary enabling works to have taken place. This development is in line with Departmental policy.”

The Trust’s proposal was subject to a 12-week long public consultation, earlier this year.

Coulter stated: “Having a new Consultant led Urgent Care Centre, co-located with the new Emergency Department at the Ulster Hospital, will give patients easier access to medical assessment and clinical investigations, if required, on the same site.”