DAISY HILL FEARS
Tuesday, 15 January 2013
DAISY Hill Hospital faces "terminal decline" and a "one-way death care pathway".
That's the stark warning from the SDLP's Connaire McGreevy, who was speaking after council met to discuss Stormont plans for future health care provision.
Saying he would not apologise for his choice of words regarding the implications of the Transforming Your Care consultation document prepared by the Department of Health, Councillor McGreevy predicted "catastrophic" consequences for the district should the proposals get the go ahead.
“The people of Newry and Mourne have been placed at risk simply to facilitate a population numbers game. Jobs will be lost. The negative knock-on impact will further depress the local economy," he warned.
“There is no doubt that the Department strategists have drawn up a financial blueprint that has been deliberately skewed towards the development of Craigavon Area Hospital at the expense of Daisy Hill.
“We are entitled to ask if there is an underlying political agenda being deliberately pursued in treating Daisy Hill as a second class medical facility.
“The figures speak for themselves. While £34 million has been earmarked for the continued development and expansion of Craigavon only £12 million has been put in the cash kitty for Daisy Hill.
“The inevitable conclusion is that the Minister and his minions have already decided that Craigavon will have that extra cash injection in order to place it in prime position to become a central acute care centre."
Mr McGreevy also accused the department of "calculated gerrymandering" in the way population statistics have been presented by it.
“Newry and Mourne has been deliberately projected as two separate council areas. The document actually flies in the face of its own recommendations. Close examination of the supplementary documents raises very serious and fundamental questions over the evidence that they have chosen to actually select and equally importantly how it has been evaluated," he said.
“On the wider relevance of what can only be called a sham Public Consultation document the heavy emphasis placed on medical terminology in its 71 pages is extremely difficult for anyone outside the profession to understand. It certainly is not designed to be absorbed by the widest possible section of the community.
“Questions must be raised regarding the motives surrounding the obvious restrictions such a complicated document places on the delivery of a truly transparent public consultation."
The leader of the SDLP council group said there could be "no escaping the stark comparison with the controversial death care pathway".
“The policy being implemented in a number of Health Trusts in Britain is leading directly to premature deaths on hospital wards," he warned.
“The lack of financial parity treatment being delivered to our hospital will lead to the same. In both scenarios lives will be put at risk because the necessary support network is being cynically deprived.
“The grey suit brigade at the Department have essentially come up with a document that is flawed in its analysis and misleading in the way it has been presented."
Mr McGreevy said another area of significant concern raised by reading the document was in relation to the proposed closure of statutory care homes in Newry and Mourne.
“The authors of the report say that at least 50 per cent of care homes will be axed in the next three to five years," he said.
“Yet they acknowledge that our population is ageing by stating that there will be a 42 per cent increase in over 65s by the year 2025.
“Like the treatment planned for Daisy Hill the projected closure of care homes simply does not make health or indeed economic sense."
A Department of Health spokesperson defended the consultation document, saying highlights "the positive model offered by the networked arrangements between Daisy Hill and Craigavon Hospitals".
“These existing arrangements have enabled the provision of safe, quality care for patients and safe and sustainable services on both sites," the spokesperson said.
“The consultation document proposed that this networked model would be be supported and encouraged and that further sensible changes would occur to maximise the effectiveness of this network.
“It is important not to view any hospital in isolation but to recognise the need to see hospital services in Northern Ireland as a whole - and to focus on the provision of patient-centred services in which health care professionals work together to ensure the best outcomes for patients."
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