Concern for ‘vital services’ at DHH as fracture clinic moves to Craigavon

February 24, 2014

Retaining the fracture clinic service at Daisy Hill Hospital instead of relocating it as planned to Craigavon Area Hospital would cost just £45,000, a ‘paltry sum’ in terms of overall budget, SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley has claimed.

In recent days the Southern Health Trust  confirmed the fracture clinic at Daisy Hill is to be relocated as part of the Trust’s plans to centralise provision in a purpose-built unit in Craigavon.

The news has raised concerns and politicians have been vociferous in their opposition with the SDLP calling on the Trust to scrap the plans and Sinn Fein claiming people in Newry are worried about cuts at the hospital.

However, attempting to allay such concerns, the Trust says  it plans to proceed with the move which is  part of a £4million investment aimed at improving its orthopaedic and trauma services.

Acting Director of Acute services, Debbie Burns, said: “The changes in fracture outpatient services in Daisy Hill announced recently will not change the way people in Newry and Mourne receive initial care and treatment for fracture injuries like a broken arm – they will still come to the Emergency Department in Daisy Hill for a scan and initial treatment.

“It is only when patients require follow-up treatment for fracture injuries that they will be asked to attend appointments in the purpose-built trauma and orthopaedic facility in Craigavon Area Hospital, starting from summer 2014. Likewise those patients requiring inpatient trauma and orthopaedic surgery will have their surgery locally in Craigavon instead of Belfast,” she added.

Urging health officials to reconsider, SDLP MLA Dominc Bradley said people should not be forced to travel – in some cases 40 miles, he said – to attend a fracture clinic.

Mr Bradley says he has been told by the Southern Trust officials that it will cost £45,000 to retain the facility at Daisy Hill.

“While it is not about money, the amount in question is a paltry sum in the context of the overall health budget,” he said.  “I would appeal to the Health Minister and to the Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Board, John Compton, to think again about this decision and to make available the relatively small resource needed to retain the clinic at Daisy Hill Hospital.”

Commenting, Newry and Armagh MLA Megan Fearon, said: “I have been contacted by a local sports club who are seriously concerned that this cut to vital health services at Daisy Hill represents a dangerous development for local people.  I have contacted the Southern Trust and been informed that the current arrangement, in which fractures requiring surgery are treated in Belfast with follow-up treatment in Daisy Hill Hospital, is to cease over the coming months, with all services delivered in Craigavon Area Hospital.”I have received assurances from the Trust that jobs will not be lost in Daisy Hill however I have written to the Health Minister, Edwin Poots, seeking an urgent update on the future arrangements for fracture treatment.  I have also queried whether or not the Minister plans any further reduction of vital services in our local hospital,” she added.

“The fact that such a move may have been taken without adequate public consultation and engagement with local representatives in the area is deeply concerning. With this in mind I will also be raising this issue with the Patient and Client Council.”

A spokesman for the Southern Trust said the move was the result of a recent award of £4m in extra funding that would enable them to provide an improved, centralised fracture service in Craigavon.

In a statement, the Trust said it “welcomed a decision by the Health and Social Care Board to provide approximately £4m to further develop trauma and orthopaedic services for patients in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust area.

“The funding means that those patients requiring inpatient trauma and orthopaedic surgery will have their surgery locally in the existing purpose-built facility in Craigavon Area Hospital and Southern Trust patients will no longer have to travel to Belfast for inpatient treatment.  It is anticipated that all Southern Health Trust Area patients will have a local service in Craigavon Area Hospital from summer 2014.”