Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

Rescheduling of Health Service meeting welcomed by Action Group

A public meeting with the Department of Health on proposed criteria for future changes to the Health Service has now been rescheduled to take place next Monday night, The Examiner can reveal.  The meeting, which originally took place on Monday last, fell into disarray due to an overcrowded venue and a faulty sound system which prompted a mass exodus of members of the public who were disappointed at the facilities.

Chairman of the Daisy Hill Action Group, Francis Gallagher, welcomed the scheduling of a second meeting as an opportunity for the public to put forward their concerns on issues such as the retention of the Daisy Hill Stroke Unit and Emergency Department.

Speaking to The Examiner, Mr Gallagher said the inadequate facilities and sound system at last week’s meeting had left many “understandably frustrated as they had genuine concerns that they wanted addressed.” He explained that the original meeting had proceeded after the Daisy Hill Action Group’s request to hold another meeting had been granted by the Department of Health.

The new consultation will take place next Monday, 30th January at 7pm in the Canal Court Hotel in Newry, and should give the public another opportunity to voice their concerns, he said.

“The Daisy Hill Action Group welcomes the second meeting with the Department and the extension of the consultation period for the Bengoa report until February 3rd,” said Mr Gallagher.

“During the original public meeting on Monday last, there were a lot of very valuable contributions made by the audience and people were understandably very concerned about a lot issues,” added the action group chief.

“I got the impression there were quite a lot of people who wanted to make points but there just wasn’t time or the facilities to talk.  At the same time I believe last Monday’s meeting will make a great difference for the simple reason that the contributions from the public were based upon experience and medical facts.”

Mr Gallagher reiterated that all the medical evidence he has been provided with is in favour of the stroke unit remaining at Daisy Hill and said that research has shown that the local Stroke Unit is one of the best in Europe.

“Medical professionals advise us that if someone who unfortunately suffers a stroke whether it be in Kilkeel or Crossmaglen, that person will need a scan and treatment as soon as possible. If Daisy Hill loses the Stroke Unit and thus its A&E department, valuable time will then be spent on the road to Craigavon which would greatly reduce the chances of a patient making a recovery.

“We have been advised that recovery from stroke can be miraculous if the patient is treated in time. This information has all been given to us by medical professionals so the measure of success in the campaign to retain the Stroke Unit will be the facts, good research and clinical evidence.  We hope that – if the Department is any way reasonable – this will win the day for Daisy Hill’s Stroke Unit.”

Thanking the huge numbers of people who turned out for last week’s meeting, he appealed to the public to continue show confidence and support and come along to next Monday’s meeting to present their views.

“ I believe the Department is demonising older people as an excuse to explain the problems with the Health Service and they need to be brought to task on this,” he added.

“The Daisy Hill Action Group asked for a vote to be taken on the retention of the Stroke Unit and the A&E Department at the end of last week’s meeting as a way to measure the consensus of the meeting. The Department of Health rejected our suggestion however.

“Figures show a large increase in the number of people using Daisy Hill and we hope that this increased usage will bode well for the future of our local hospital and our proposals for the creation of a teaching and research hospital to be built on a green field site to cater for this whole border region.”

Newry & Armagh MP Mickey Brady has also welcomed a further consultation with the Health Service.  The Sinn Fein MP said he was left deeply frustrated and angry at last week’s meeting, with much of the night’s discussion taken up by the issue of the unsuitable venue. Mr Brady said he deeply regretted that he did not have the opportunity to give his input and hoped to do so at the next meeting.

“There are hugely important local issues relating to for example Daisy Hill Hospital, local GP & After Hour Services, Domiciliary Care, helping transform our Health Services and the  delivery of all those services, and there is a need for all to be given the opportunity to make this known.”