“Good sense” prevails as Fracture Clinic services retained in Daisy Hill

March 3, 2014

By Christine Keighery

A dramatic u-turn by the Southern Trust to retain outpatient fracture clinics in Daisy Hill Hospital has been unanimously welcomed by local political representatives and trade unions.

Last week The Examiner reported on the Southern Health Trust’s plans to relocate the fracture clinic at Daisy Hill as part of proposals to centralise provision in a purpose-built unit in Craigavon.

Despite assurances from the Trust that only patients requiring follow-up treatment for fracture injuries would be asked to attend appointments in the trauma and orthopaedic facility in Craigavon, and that emergency fracture patients would still receive initial care from Daisy Hill Emergency Department, serious concerns were raised, prompting many local politicians to voice their opposition to the move.

The SDLP called on the Trust to scrap the plans while Sinn Fein claimed people in Newry were worried about cuts at the hospital.

With pressure mounting on the trust to rethink the proposal, it was subsequently confirmed last Monday that outpatient fracture clinics will now remain at Daisy Hill, with the additional news that the Health and Social Care Board (HSCB) was investing £4m to support the Fracture Clinic in Daisy Hill.

In a statement, a Southern Trust spokesperson explained,

“With the additional investment in local fracture services, people living in Newry and Mourne will have their surgery in the purpose built fracture unit at Craigavon Area Hospital.

“We welcome the HSCB’s agreement to provide the resources that out-patient clinics will continue to be run at Daisy Hill by the clinical team from Craigavon Area Hospital.

“The changes take place during the summer.  There is no change for patients needing emergency treatment following a suspected fracture, patients will continue to attend the Emergency Department at Daisy Hill for immediate assessment and treatment,” added the spokesperson.

SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley welcomed the fact that “good sense has prevailed” and revealed that, along with SDLP South Down MP Margaret Ritchie and South Down MLAs Karen McKevitt and Seán Rogers, he had lobbied the Trust to have the clinic retained in Newry, as an important service for south Armagh and south Down.

“It would have been wrong to expect people to travel, in some cases, 40 miles to attend a fracture clinic given that quite often, the patients involved are in the older age group and additional travel time would only add to the stress of their condition said Mr Bradley.

Sinn Féin also welcomed the retention of local Fracture Services and said Assembly Member Megan Fearon had written to the Health Minister to voice her disapproval at the move.

Speaking following confirmation that the fracture service was to be retained in Daisy Hill, Ms Fearon said,

“I was appalled to hear last week that Daisy Hill’s fracture services were in jeopardy.

“This would have been a terrible blow for the area and would have meant patients travelling to Craigavon Area Hospital for all fracture treatment.

“What will now happen is that patients with suspected fracture will initially attend Daisy Hill for treatment.  If they require surgery this will be performed at a purpose built fracture unit in Craigavon instead of Belfast as is the current arrangement.  All follow up treatment will be performed at Daisy Hill.”

Mickey Brady, MLA and member of the Assembly’s Health Committee added

“I contacted the Chief Executive of the Southern Trust immediately when I learned of the threat to fracture services.  I wanted to voice my displeasure at the potential loss of fracture services to Newry and at the fact that the Southern Trust did not consult with local elected representatives.

“I am now satisfied that fracture services at Daisy Hill will remain and that local people will not have to travel unnecessary distances for follow up fracture treatment.”