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Pathfinder Project making quick progress

Tuesday, 5 September 2017

Pathfinder Project making quick progress thumbnailDAISY Hillís Emergency Department.

THE Daisy Hill Hospital Pathfinder Group (DHHPG) have sent a needs assessment report to the Department of Health ahead of tonight's (Tuesday) Pathfinder Community Forum.

However, speaking at Thursday's Southern Trust board meeting, where The Newry Democrat was the only newspaper present, the Chair of DHHPG Dr Anne Marie Telford stated that the details of the needs assessment cannot be released at such an early stage.

Tonight's forum, which will be hosted and co-Chaired by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council Chairperson Councillor Roisin Mulgrew and Chief Executive of the Patient and Client Council Maeve Hully, will allow community representatives to express their interest for positions on DHHPG.

The Pathfinder Group require four representatives and are suggesting people who represent a range of interests including users/carers, the community/voluntary sector, the business sector and health and social care interest groups.

The DHHPG also wish to see a representative of each of the four District Electoral Areas served by Daisy Hill, people who are willing to commit time to the process, which is likely to last 18 to 24 months and people who are prepared to gather views from their own geographical area, and to feedback to the community.

Tonight's Community Forum will take place at 7pm in Newry Arts Centre and Dr Telford explained that the forum is aimed to exist beyond the life of the Pathfinder project.

"It would be very helpful to have a Pathfinder Community Forum that will exist beyond the life of the project," Dr Telford told the Trust board. "That forum could be self nominated.

"This forum can identify its own names and we believe that people from business groups, community groups and interested parties should be on the forum."

Independent support to the selection of representatives will be provided by the Northern Ireland Council on Voluntary Action.

While Trust staff and political representatives have been part of the community engagement process to date, the aim is that the forum will represent the wider community.

Staff and political representatives will be able to continue to contribute to the process through other Trust and council engagement.

Following last month's DHHPG public engagement meetings in Newry, Kilkeel and Crossmaglen, it was decided that the Community Forum would be set up after the feedback the panel received from members of the public.

"One of the first challenges we had was the Pathfinder Group but what we really wanted was to have some community representation," explained Dr Telford.

"This was particularly challenging because we could have picked some people but those people would not have been directly representative for the community.

"We discussed how we could move forward on this so we asked the community. We asked people who have an interest and asked them what would be an appropriate method to get people to sit on the groups.

"We were delighted with the responses during the public meetings."

Dr Telford added that she hopes to make "great progress" during tonight's forum but there is still a lot of work to be done before the Pathfinder Project's November 14 deadline.

"We're going to be looking at staffing issues at Daisy Hill Hospital and we're also going to be looking at how to take pressures off Daisy Hill's Emergency Department," she said.

"We have got a lot of work to do over the next 11 weeks."

The Interim Chief Executive of the Southern Trust Francis Rice, was confident of meeting the deadline and said an "awful lot" of work has been done so far with extensive community and staff engagement.

SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty, also spoke at the Trust board meeting and said that work done so far has been "very positive".

"The Pathfinder Group has been charged with securing the long term future of Daisy Hill Hospital and we must not forget that," continued Mr McNulty.

"I will be interested to see the findings of the needs assessment but I must applaud the forum approach and the staff engagement has to be commended.

"This Pathfinder Group has been created to secure Daisy Hill Emergency Department on a 24 hour seven day a week basis and I want to see that."

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