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GAA club at forefront of campaign to save Daisy Hill ED

The threatened closure of the emergency department at Daisy Hill hospital in Newry has prompted a local GAA club to erect banners on its premises in support of the campaign to retain existing services.

Encouraged by the huge groundswell of opposition to any proposed closure, displayed at last Monday’s public meeting held in the Canal Court hotel, members of Dromintee GFC have seized the initiative to highlight the importance of the hospital’s emergency services to theirs and many other sports clubs across the district.

Chairman Aidan Rice says that his club has relied on the Accident and Emergency department of Daisy Hill numerous times and indeed, twice inside the last year, players who were injured during matches were treated at the facility.  He says this is a common occurrence within any sports club in the area and he has called on fellow GAA clubs and sporting organisations to get behind the campaign to ensure a full-time emergency service remains at the Newry hospital.

“People power is going to go a long way against this proposed action,” Aidan told The Examiner, while revealing that the club’s committee members decided to use their grounds’ entrance walls to focus attention on their own campaign of opposition.  They have since erected banners with the hashtags Save Daisy Hill / Our Lives Matter and urging the public to support the crusade by joining the group’s Facebook page.

“From a club perspective, the priority is always providing safety for players and visitors once they come through our gates.  Twice last year at underage games we needed to call Daisy Hill Emergency Department for an ambulance to treat players injured during matches.  Also during a fundraising night in the social club, a member of the band suffered a heart attack.”

Recalling that incident, Aidan said: I was there that night and neither the casualty nor ourselves realised the seriousness of the man’s condition.  He was actually cared for initially by my wife – a local pharmacist – and a nurse who both had been attending the event.  The ambulance services and First Response Unit within Daisy Hill were fully engaged that night and eventually, up to an hour later, an ambulance arrived from Craigavon.

“I remember calling to ask how the man was later in the week and when I was told he had suffered a minor heart attack, I wondered what the outcome would have been if the attack had been more serious or if a defibrillator and the assistance of a nurse were not readily available.  An hour later and the results would be fatal.”

Noting the reduction of maternity services already underway at Daisy Hill, Aidan believes the downgrading of the emergency department is tantamount to the “complete phasing out” of the entire hospital.

“Plans are already in place to introduce midwife-led controls within the maternity suites, meaning no paediatricians are on hand to give their professional advice on the health of your child.  What mother wants this or what midwife wants to work in that environment?” he asked.

Aidan insists that every household across the area has, in some respect, sought medical aid at Daisy Hill and he is encouraging all GAA, soccer, rugby, running  or other sports clubs to share the Dromintee GFC campaign message and support whatever public events or rallies that may follow.