Centralising health services should be ‘last avenue’ for Daisy Hill

January 16, 2017

Slieve Gullion SDLP Councillor Pete Byrne says his party will continue to give strong representation for the people of Newry and south Armagh when it comes to protecting services at Daisy Hill hospital.

Speaking ahead of a public consultation meeting to be held tonight (Monday) in Newry, Councillor Byrne said the event is an opportunity for the public to put their views to the Health Minister on the services they wish to be retained at Daisy Hill Hospital.

Mr Byrne says this public meeting is a follow-on from a meeting of the Daisy Hill Health Forum, consisting of local councillors and members of a Daisy Hill action group, which took place on 16th December.

“We met before Christmas to discuss the criteria set out in the Bengoa report which will be used to measure the future provision of medical services in the North. I was extremely disappointed that a number of councillors did not attend this important meeting. We have an obligation, on behalf of the public, to actively take part in drafting a response to this consultation and it is disappointing that the SDLP were the only party to turn up and feed into the Council’s response,” he said.

“Not only were we constructing a response based on the criteria outlined in the Bengoa report, we were also compiling an appendix of issues specific to the area served by Daisy Hill Hospital. It is important that other parties use every avenue open to them to voice their concerns about the proposed centralisation of services. We are already witnessing how centralisation is putting pressure on already stretched GP services.

“Last year my colleagues and I, alongside local GP Dr Patrick Fee, met with Dr Sloan Harper, Director of Integrated Care, Health and Social Care Board in Belfast to express our grave concerns on how increasingly difficult it was becoming to recruit GP’s in rural areas.  We felt strongly that pushing on with the centralisation of services would have a devastating effect on those who live in rural areas,” he pointed out.

“Put on top of that the diabolical waiting times for ambulance service in south Armagh and you have a recipe for disaster. Patients in rural areas will be put at a greater risk, which is why we need strong representation from our elected representatives.

“The SDLP have ensured a number of issues regarding Daisy Hill are outlined in the Council’s response, including the retention of the Stroke Unit and A&E Department. The Health Minister needs to look at the bigger picture regarding those availing of the services at Daisy Hill. While Newry may be at the bottom of the Southern Trust area, the hospital is well placed to provide services for patients from the North Louth and Monaghan areas. We only have to look at the Renal unit which currently provides dialysis services to patients from those areas of the Republic. This addresses the issue of patient volumes required to keep up skills and also could provide an additional revenue stream.

“While I accept that radical change is indeed needed in Health Care, centralising services should be the last avenue to be explored,” he added.