A “groundbreaking” plan has been drawn up by the Southern Trust in a bid to develop emergency care in Newry and Mourne.
Details of the project to develop proposals were approved at a meeting of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust Board on Tuesday.
A final report on the outcome of the project is due in November, with implementation of the recommendations expected to make significant progress in the following 15 – 18 months.
The Daisy Hill Emergency Department Pathfinder Group will oversee the project. It will be chaired by Dr Anne-Marie Telford, an experienced public health doctor who worked within the Southern area for over 20 years.
Dr Telford has been involved with major regional and local improvement projects, including the reconfiguration of cancer services, the roll-out of the Diabetic Retinopathy Screening Programme, and the introduction of digital radiography.
“Full and inclusive community participation will be fundamental to the success of the project, and the input of service users and carers through co-production will be a major part of the process.
“There will be community members on the Pathfinder Group and the various work streams that will support the project. This is a ground-breaking process for Northern Ireland, and one that reflects the commitment of both the Department of Health and the Trust to maintaining access to emergency health care for people living in the Newry and Mourne area,” said Dr Telford.
The Group will also have staff side representation, nursing, medical and ambulance staff and public health experts. It is tasked with developing proposals for sustainable acute and emergency care that reflects the needs of the Newry and Mourne community.
“This is an opportunity to not only secure services for the Newry and Mourne area, but also to provide learning opportunities to inform the provision of acute and emergency care elsewhere in Northern Ireland,” concluded Dr Telford.
The process for bringing together community interest groups will start immediately, and will be taken forward over the next few weeks, with the first full meeting of the Pathfinder Group taking place in July.