Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Meeting hears renewed call for hyper-acute stroke unit at Daisy Hill

Last Tuesday’s public meeting in the Canal Court Hotel, Newry, which was part of a pre-consultation process on Reshaping Stroke Services in the Southern Trust area, was extremely well attended with some of the invited speakers putting forward a powerful case to safeguard the future of stroke services in Daisy Hill Hospital.

Chairperson of the Daisy Hill Action Group, and a vociferous advocate of the campaign to maintain and develop stroke services in Daisy Hill, Mr Francis Gallagher renewed calls for a hyper acute stroke unit to be developed in the hospital.

Welcoming “encouraging comments” at the meeting, Mr Gallagher told The Examiner: “There should be no borders when it comes to health care and this is why the Department of Health needs to develop the specialist stroke unit at Daisy Hill into a seven day a week hyper-acute stroke unit, one that will be part of an acute hospital network at Newry to cater for this whole border region. 

“Newry and Crossmaglen has a natural hinterland that stretches into Louth and Monaghan, so the population of these counties need to be considered with the figures for Down, Newry, Mourne and the rest of Gullion when planning our health care provision here. Even without considering the border counties in the Republic, the population of this part of the Southern Health Trust is increasing significantly. All this needs to be taken into consideration when deciding how to plan stroke services for this region.”

Highlighting the significance of having a hyper acute stroke unit, he revealed that someone who suffers a stroke caused by a clot, can make “a miracle recovery” if they receive a clot-busting injection within the first 30 minutes.

“This fundamental medical fact is a strong argument to have a hyper acute stroke unit at Daisy Hill and, eventually, in a new teaching and research acute hospital for this whole border region,” Mr Gallagher said.

“There are advances in stroke treatment through mechanical retrieval methods but only a few doctors can do this highly specialised procedure and I have been informed they are located in Belfast. Every minute spent on the A1 to Belfast means the loss of more brain cells and permanent disability if early intervention is not given at Daisy Hill.”

Also in attendance at the meeting, Ulster Unionist Party Councillor David Taylor says there is a “strong desire” within the local community for stroke services at Daisy Hill to be retained and enhanced.

“There is a genuine fear that this review of stroke services could lead to the closure of the stroke unit at Daisy Hill Hospital, however, it was emphasised to health officials at the public meeting that this was not an acceptable outcome,” Councillor Taylor said.

“It is crucial for any patient who suffers a stroke to receive necessary medical treatment as quickly as possible to aid their recovery.  This is why it is imperative for the local community, particularly in rural areas such as south Armagh and the Mournes, to be able to receive vital initial treatment at the specialist stroke facility at Daisy Hill Hospital.

“I sincerely hope health officials will take on board the genuine strength of feeling that exists regarding the retention of stroke services at Daisy Hill Hospital.  This health facility is an essential asset to the local area and must be protected as part of the review of services in Northern Ireland,” he added.