Action group vows to save acute services at Daisy Hill

August 17, 2015

A newly formed action group has pledged to help unite the community around a future campaign to oppose what it describes as “an unprecedented onslaught upon our acute medical services.”

The Daisy Hill Action Group, which was founded at a recent meeting in the Sean Holywood Arts Centre in Newry, has now published its strategy which details its four main aims of a campaign for a new hospital build, reclaiming services, more transparency in governance of health and solidarity with other communities to prevent budget cuts.

Speaking to The Examiner about the action group, newly elected chairperson, local historian and public service worker, Francis Gallagher said,

“There is a wisdom behind letting the public know our strategy in detail because it sends out the message that we have put some thought into this and hopefully people’s confidence will be enhanced knowing that we can win this battle to save acute services at Daisy Hill.”

“Before Christmas it was the stroke unit at Daisy Hill that came under the shadow of centralization, now we are hearing the A & E unit may have reduced hours – so we can rest assured other acute services will come under the axe of centralization,” added the group chairperson.

The Daisy Hill Action Group’s initial strategy (which it stresses is open for wider discussion from the public) is to change the decision to centralise the Daisy Hill Stroke Unit to Craigavon and to prevent any reduction to the A&E and other services at Daisy Hill.

The ambitious long term vision of the action group is to have a new enhanced full acute hospital established at Newry to incorporate a new contemporary building on a green field site. The group envision the new hospital providing services to people from the whole border region.

According to Mr Gallagher,

“We will win the moral argument by showing the ethical and clinical flaws in the Department of Health’s policy of centralising acute medical services when super specialist treatment is not required.”

The action group intends to carry out a non party political, broad community campaign to achieve its vision and says it will “take ownership of the moral high ground by obtaining clinical/professional support to counteract arguments used by the Department of Health to centralise acute services where this is not clinically required.”

Another rally to rival the Stroke Services rally which took place in March will be organised in the coming months and the group also intends to raise funds to finance a business/clinical case for the retention of current acute services at Daisy Hill and for the establishment of a new acute hospital at Newry.

The group will have an implementation committee that will include a wide spectrum of professional expertise from a legal, medical, health economics, accountancy and disciplines.

The hospital campaigners say they will endeavour to meet with the Minister of Health and with the First and Deputy First Minister as soon as possible to discuss their aims and that they will continually widen out participation in the Daisy Hill Action group through public meetings so it will include  anyone who wants to contribute in a positive way.