Second meeting arranged to discuss health plans
Tuesday, 24 January 2017
A SECOND public meeting to discuss the future of healthcare in Northern Ireland will be held this coming Monday, January 30 in the Canal Court Hotel.
The first meeting, held last Monday (January 16) was rancorous and often fractious, with a number of people walking out in protest at the unsuitable conditions for those attending the discussion.
More than 200 people packed into a cramped Newry Conference Centre to discuss proposals to improve the Health Service in Northern Ireland announced by former Health Minister Michelle O'Neill in November as a consequence of the Bengoa Report.
Chief Medical Officer Dr Michael McBride and Chief Nursing Officer Charlotte McAvoy curated the event, taking questions from the audience on the seven criterion aimed at making healthcare work more effectively for an ageing population amid rising costs.
However, the debate was undermined throughout by a poor sound and visual quality that led to Daisy Hill Action Group Chairperson Francis Gallagher calling for the meeting to be halted and rescheduled.
Mr Gallagher said: "Many people could not see the PowerPoint presentation or hear what was being said because of the tempermental nature of the sound system so, understandably, some people felt frustrated by this because their genuine concerns were not being addressed."
Amid accusations from audience members of a 'conspiracy' and of decisions already being 'pre-determined' in the upper-echelons of the Health Department, Dr McBride said that there was a genuine will within the Department to engage and interact with the public on any changes, which he said was demonstrated by their proposal of a second meeting.
Dr McBride said: "If we are serious about co-producing and co-designing the criteria with both people that use the service and deliver the service, it means sitting down and planning what that future service might look like.
“There is a genuine commitment to that as a process going forward. If we are really serious about about getting a healthcare that is fit for the future and actually meets the need of the population changes and meeting the needs of an ageing population, we can only do that by working with you to understand the pressures and benefits of that model."
Mr Gallagher said: "The reason that the second meeting is being held is because the venue that was organised by the Department of Health on January 16 meeting was too small and it couldn't adequately accommodate the large number of people.
"Some people walked out before the meeting started, and I can sympathise with them because of the situation. To show empathy and respect to these people Daisy Hill Action Group asked for the meeting to be cancelled and rescheduled."
The Daisy Hill Hill Action Group Chairperson said, that based on medical evidence, the Stroke Unit should remain open at Daisy Hill.
"It is very clear that the medical evidence is in favour of the Stroke Unit remaining at Daisy Hill. This is because the data shows that it is one of the best in Europe. Medical professionals advise us that if someone unfortunately takes a Stroke, he or she will need a scan and treatment as soon as possible.
“Time spent on the road to Craigavon can reduce the chances of a patient making a recovery, which, we are advised, can be miraculous if treated on time," said Mr Gallagher.
"I would like to thank to the many people who attended [the] meeting and I would appeal to the public to show more of this self-confidence and come along to the meeting in the Canal Court."
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