Dispute over council Daisy Hill support

Tuesday, 18 July 2017

THE Save Our Emergency Department (SOED) group and Newry, Mourne and Down District Council appear to be at odds over the council's engagement over the fight to save services at Daisy Hill.

The group of community activists say that they have had very little guidance or support from the council, despite writing to them 15 times.

In particular, they have been seeking meetings over the formation of a council Health Committee, and also to hold a celebration day for the hospital.

The council, for their part, say that there are no plans for such an event, adding that Council Chairperson, Roisin Mulgrew, has written to groups in relation to meetings with local health trusts.

In a statement, SOED said: "We have had a busy six months supporting the campaign to secure services at Daisy Hill Hospital.

"We continue to work tirelessly behind the scenes on a number of issues, engaging with the Southern Trust, hospital staff at all levels and service users.

"We have also been trying to contact senior members of Newry Mourne and Down District Council since late May to arrange meetings with our committee on two specific issues:

1. The Council Health Committee that was to be formed after a public meeting we attended at Trust headquarters. We are very keen to engage with this committee if it was ever formed, but we have not had a formal response to date.

2. A Daisy Hill Celebration Day to be held in Jennings Park or a close venue to the hospital site.

We were hoping to hold the event this Summer and lend all our volunteers in the organisation of the event, with the council as host.

"We have contacted both the Chief Executive, council staff and Chairperson to discuss these matters on more than 15 occasions. The only response thus far was that we should anticipate a response from their administration.

"[We are] regretful that at this time we are still left with no guidance or support." The statement added that the committee would be meeting with the Southern Trust on August 3 with the aim of joining the Pathfinder Group, adding that they would continue to keep the public up to date on social media and through their statements.

The spokesperson concluded: "We just feel very disapointed at this time that we continue without the engagement from our council that they had promised at our public meeting held in Canal Court Hotel." In response, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council said that Council Chairperson, Roisin Mulgrew, had written to interest groups last week with regard to the Councils plans for engagement with the local Health trusts.

"A report will be tabled to the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee in August setting out how these Fora will be constituted and established," a spokesperson said.

"These Fora will have regular meetings with the Trusts preceded on each occasion by engagement with interested groups, hospital trade unions and the wider community so that all relevant issues can have the opportunity to be aired." The council then quoted Cllr Mulgrew's letter, which included the following; "I refer to on-going concerns regarding the future of our local hospitals and my commitment to put in place a formal arrangement to enable engagement to take place between the Council, the Southern Health Trust, the South Eastern Health Trust and various lobbying groups.

"The aim of the engagement is to discuss primary care provision in the district and to promote a positive message about our local hospitals and the health care services provided in our area.

"I confirm the Council will organise a preliminary meeting with all concerned in the very near future, which you will be invited to attend.

I am very keen that all relevant bodies and groups engage in this process to enable a positive outcome for health care provision in the district.

"Thank you for your support to date and you can anticipate hearing further details in due course." The council spokesperson also confirmed that there are "no current plans" for a Daisy Hill celebration event.


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