Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

DoH panel robustly challenged at Newry Stroke Services meeting

At Tuesday’s public consultation meeting in Newry on reshaping stroke services across Northern Ireland, people from across the district turned out in high numbers to present a resolute case for the need for a Hyperacute stroke unit (HASU) in Daisy Hill Hospital.

The Canal Court Hotel venue was packed to capacity at the Department of Health’s Engagement meeting as the people of Newry, Mourne Down and south Armagh took the opportunity to have their say regarding the future of specialist stroke services in Daisy Hill.

Following introductory videos, the panel consisting of Dr Brid Farrell, Dr Michael McBride and Alastair Campbell, representing the Department of Health, gave an overview of the Consultation before inviting questions from the audience.

MPs, MLAs, Councillors, staff, stroke survivors and their families, carers, community representatives and other individual stakeholders robustly challenged the Reshaping Stroke Care proposals using clear logical arguments, with support from the audience. These speakers were united in the need for timely access to 999 emergency stroke services in Daisy Hill and an enhanced stroke unit, given the geography and demography of Newry, Mourne and Down LGD as the third highest council population in Northern Ireland.

Vice Chairman of the Support Our Stroke Services campaign group, James McAreavey, presents his challenge.

Speakers put to the panel that the proposals in the Consultation ignored the fact that patients suffering stroke needed to get to a Hyperacute stroke unit as quickly as possible and that offering the only Hyperacute Stroke Unit to Stroke patients in Craigavon instead of in Newry meant that patients would not receive treatment fast enough. 

They also put it to the panel that clinical evidence proves the importance of the ‘Golden Hour’ in Emergency Stroke care.

The resounding message was that those present would not accept that Daisy Hill Acute Hospital had been excluded from all of the 6 Consultation Options – and despite being asked by a number of people, the Panel gave no answer as to why Daisy Hill had been left out. 

Speakers asserted that the Consultation was flawed and biased and used discriminating treatment of Daisy Hill and the people of Newry, Mourne Down south Armagh, Banbridge and wider catchment area.

Vice Chairman of the Support Our Stroke Services campaign group, James McAreavey, presents his challenge.

Two questions were put to Alastair Campbell which related to the Department’s flawed Online Questionnaire which does not allow respondents to continue without picking one of the 6 Options (which all ignore Daisy Hill Hospital.)  Mr Campbell responded with the answer that: “I thought it had been fixed” and was asked to give a commitment to fix the error.

The meeting showed the Department how strongly the people feel and that they continue to call for a Hyperacute and Acute Stroke Unit in Daisy Hill, Newry to support our rural population in line with the Rural Needs Act 2016.

To achieve this goal, the people of the area must continue to campaign and challenge this consultation.

The Support Our Stroke Services Campaign Group has providing the video of the meeting which is available to view on the ‘Support Our Stroke Services’ Facebook page.