Trust responds to SDLP fears for future of Daisy Hill healthcare

January 21, 2013

By Christine Keighery

SDLP Councillor Connaire McGreevy spoke out last week against Stormont plans drawn up for health care provision in the area in the Transforming Your Care (TYC) consultation document, and issued a stark warning predicting a “one-way death care pathway” for Newry’s Daisy Hill Hospital.

Councillor McGreevy refused to apologise for his choice of words and said it was clear that, if the strategies were allowed to be implemented, Daisy Hill faced “terminal decline.”

He accused Department strategists of playing a “population numbers game” to draw up a financial blueprint which has been deliberately skewed towards the development of Craigavon Area Hospital, at the expense of Daisy Hill, and cited the £34 million earmarked for Craigavon’s expansion compared to the £12 million set aside for Daisy Hill, as evidence of this.

“The inevitable conclusion is that the Minister and his minions have already decided that Craigavon will have that extra cash injection in order to place it in prime position to become a central acute care centre” said Mr McGreevy.

“The way that the population statistics have been presented is another example of what can only be described as a calculated gerrymander.

“Newry and Mourne have been deliberately projected as two separate Council areas, when compared against the joint populations of Craigavon and Banbridge along with Armagh and Dungannon.”

In response to the SDLP Councillor’s criticisms, a spokesperson for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said it had been working with the Southern Local Commissioning Group to develop a population plan for the area over the next three to five years which has been part of a regional consultation since early October.

Southern Trust Chief Executive, Mairead McAlinden also said: “TYC emphasises the need for hospitals to operate in a more integrated and networked way, working together with primary care, particularly for our frail elderly patients and those with chronic disease.  We want to make sure that we deliver the right care in the right place and reduce hospital admissions that could be avoided if alternatives were in place.

“Southern Trust hospitals already operate in a networked approach, making the best use of infrastructure and skills across our acute sites and Daisy Hill is a key part of this network.  For example Daisy Hill provides the renal service for the Southern area, and the arrangements to link the High Dependency Unit in Daisy Hill with the Intensive Care Unit in Craigavon, enabled by new technology, has proved very successful.

“Daisy Hill has also led the way by embracing a new telemedicine service to assess stroke patients more quickly and allow for faster access to vital clot dissolving drugs.

“We have heavily invested in Daisy Hill over the past few years, including £1 million to upgrade of the heating infrastructure, a £500,000 renovation of the Outpatients Department, and just under £1 million refurbishment to the Emergency Department.

“This investment is set to continue with a modernisation of the Pharmacy underway, further refurbishment to the Emergency Department due to be completed by the summer and a £4.7 million upgrade to Theatres planned for the next financial year.

“As a Queen’s University Teaching Hospital and, having been recognised as one of the top 40 acute hospitals in the UK at the prestigious CHKS awards, the local population and elected representatives should be reassured of the quality of care provided by our staff at Daisy Hill, supported by the Trust.

“Health and Social Care Services will always be changing to reflect the changing needs of our population, new standards of care and safety, and workforce challenges.  The Draft Strategic Implementation Plan for Transforming Your Care very clearly sets out that the existing hospital network model in the Southern Trust is to be supported and encouraged, and that further sensible changes would be expected to maximise its effectiveness. I am confident that our services can continue to develop to provide sustainable, high quality and safe hospital care.”