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Trust extends specialist service for early pregnancy care

29th February 2024

Women experiencing early pregnancy problems can avail of an extended service in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust which will help to enhance and improve the care they receive.

The Early Pregnancy Problem Clinic (EPPC) at Craigavon Area Hospital has expanded its opening hours to 50 hours a week.

The emergency referral service saw over 4000 attendances in the last 14 months and so the development of this service reflects the needs of the women who use it. It will now open from 9am to 7pm Monday to Friday, an increase of 10 hours a week.

There is also an EPPC clinic in Daisy Hill Hospital which operates four mornings a week.

The Specialist Nurse-led service, under the guidance of an Obstetric and Gynae Consultant and two Obstetric and Gynae Specialty Doctors, manages early pregnancy problems and sees women up until 16 weeks gestation. They also see women with a history of ectopic pregnancy, molar pregnancy and recurrent miscarriage.

Sister Nicola Dunlop said that the extension if part of a regional initiative so that women are signposted to the correct service and provided with the most appropriate care as quickly as possible.

“We understand that early pregnancy can be a worrying time and we want to help and support women and their families in any way we can.

“We know that the Emergency Department is not the best place for women when they are experiencing problems within the early stages of their pregnancy and so the expansion of the opening hours helps that women have access to the most appropriate pathway available.

“Women can self-refer to our appointment only service by phoning 028 3756 0293 or referrals are accepted from GPs, Community Midwives, Emergency Department and other Health Care Professionals. This pathways ensure that women have a consultation with the most suitable specialist team who can advise the best management going forward.

“Whilst many women will be reassured that the pregnancy is going well, unfortunately, some will receive bad news about the pregnancy and we encourage women to bring someone with them to appointments, where we will talk to them and advise them how to manage a pregnancy that is not ongoing.”

Wendy Clarke, Interim Assistant Director of Integrated Maternity and Women’s Health in the Southern Trust, said:

“I am very proud of our EPPC team. They are a group of dedicated health professionals who are helping to ensure that women and their families get the personalised care and support they need.

“The expansion to this service plays an important part in helping to enhance and improve maternity services within the Southern Trust. We hope that this will be further extended to run over a seven day week in the future.”

If women are experiencing heavy bleeding or severe abdominal pain outside of the Monday – Friday 9am – 7pm opening hours at Craigavon Area Hospital, they are advised to Phone First, contact Urgent Care or attend the Emergency Department.