Three new consultants have been offered permanent posts at the Emergency Department at Daisy Hill Hospital.
The confirmation comes amid moves to allay concerns for the long-term provision for cover at the Newry hospital site.
And the update came straight from the proverbial horse’s mouth – the chief executive of the Southern Health Trust Shane Devlin.
He was giving assurances that everything was being done with regard to the Emergency Department – expected to reopen in September – and other services at Daisy Hill Hospital during a meeting with local SDLP MLAs.
The trio – Newry and Armagh’s Justin McNulty, Upper Bann representative Dolores Kelly and South Down’s Sinead Bradley – had sought a meeting to ” discuss the recommissioning of key services across the Southern Trust area as we emerge from the Covid-19 pandemic”.
Mr McNulty explained: “As our health service prepared to cope with the threat of the Covid-19 pandemic some routine services in our health service were paused or reconfigured.
“One of the biggest changes was the temporary closure of the Emergency Department at Daisy Hill Hospital. Whilst this step was necessary, the community, and us as their representatives, are keen to see our Emergency Department restored as quickly as possible.
“During our meeting with the chief executive he outlined his absolute commitment to reopening the Emergency Department as soon as possible.
“At this stage, they are planning for September, and he is very keen not to let that date slip.
“We stressed the need for the public to be fully informed and kept up to date on the latest developments and that we should not allow any pessimism to threaten the good work done to secure and expand Daisy Hill Hospital.”
Mr McNulty said the chief executive had been able to advise that in recent weeks three new consultants had been offered permanent posts at Daisy Hill’s Emergency Department.
“This is fantastic news for Daisy Hill and a real vote of confidence in the future of the Emergency Department,” added the local MLA.
“In addition to our discussions on the Emergency Department we also discussed a wide range of issues including the expansion of Daisy Hill and the proposed acquisition of additional lands required for the redevelopment and expansion of the hospital.”
South Down Assembly Member Sinead Bradley MLA added: “Our health care workers were the beacon of light during the pandemic, be they doctors, nurses or carers and support teams in hospitals, care homes or the community or the domiciliary care workers who went from house to house.
“We owe them a huge debt of gratitude and we owe it to them to rebuild our health service better and stronger for the future.
“We pressed Mr Devlin on the need to ensure Daisy Hill’s Emergency Department is opened as soon as possible and that staff who were transferred to Craigavon are brought back to Daisy Hill as soon as possible. Daisy Hill is a fantastic hospital and it’s important it stays that way.
“We also took the opportunity to press for the urgent and full return of cancer screening and diagnostics services, the full return of cardiology and pediatric services as well as the need to ensure the Trust has adequate supplies of PPE as we approach the winter months and possibly a second wave of this virus.
“This was a very positive meeting and we welcome the very strong and unambiguous commitments given.
“Mr Devlin understands the depth of feeling in the local community about the future of Daisy Hill and its Emergency Department.”