Health officials have again been pressed on public concerns for the future of Daisy Hill in Newry.
Newry and Armagh MP Mickey Brady led a delegation today (Wednesday), which pushed the Trust once again on its long-term plan for the hospital.
The Sinn Fein representative was accompaned by local MLAs Megan Fearon and Conor Murphy, as they raised ongoing concerns over the hospital’s future.
“This meeting was a further opportunity to reiterate the strong concerns held in the community over the future of Daisy Hill Hospital, and the real fears that services at the hospital will be relocated or closed down,” said Mr Brady after the meeting.
“Sinn Féin are determined to ensure services at Daisy Hill are protected and enhanced. Any situation whereby the growing health needs of the local population are neglected or ignored must be opposed.
“We welcome that, following a recent meeting with Sinn Féin representatives, the Health Trust developed a temporary staffing arrangement to offset the potential closure of Daisy Hill Emergency Department.
“While this is a satisfactory interim solution, Sinn Féin will continue to campaign and press the Trust to develop a comprehensive vision for services at Daisy Hill Hospital that are fit for purpose, and reflect the growing population and healthcare needs in the area.”
Also meeting with the Trust again this week was SDLP MLA Justin McNulty and his colleague Sinead Bradley, as they sought clarity on the outworking of the Trust’s summit on Daisy Hill.
Said Mr McNulty: “The Emergency Department at Daisy Hill is a first class facility and it must be protected. Over recent weeks and months there has been doubt over the very future of the service, particularly out of hours, as the Trust struggle to staff the unit at the appropriate level.
“At its last Special Board Meeting, the Southern Trust announced its intention to host a summit on the crisis facing the hospital. This was brought about because of the very vocal and positive campaign by the local community demanding that the Emergency Department be saved and protected.
“The community of Newry, South Armagh and Mourne have long believed that there has been a systematic attempt by the Trust to downgrade the services we have and transfer many of them to Craigavon.
“The Acting Chief Executive has openly acknowledged he underestimated the strength of this feeling in the community.
“The Department of Health and the Southern Trust have announced the outworkings of their summit. Following it they said that they remain committed to delivering safe, sustainable 24/7 emergency services at Daisy Hill Hospital for the foreseeable future. Whilst we welcome this commitment, we sought clarity on just what this means.
“The Trust have been given assurances from colleagues across the north that they will help with consultant cover during the evenings and at weekends. This is very welcome, however we pressed them for a more sustainable and long term solution. To us, this is still relying on locums and it’s still robbing Peter to pay Paul.
“I applaud the Trust for their efforts to date, but we must have a long term solution to the consultant shortage issue. We cannot continue to do this year after year. This issue was on the last Health Minister’s desk to deal with when she left office and it will be there when the next Minister takes up post.
“This is a very serious issue and must be a top priority for a Health Minister.”