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Threat over A&E is a matter of life and death say campaigners

Wednesday, 5 April 2017

DAISY Hill campaigner Francis Gallagher believes that the possible closure of the hospital's Emergency Department would create a ripple effect in Northern Ireland that would jeopardise public safety.

The Daisy Hill Action Group chairperson believes that the entire community needs to come out and demonstrate their unswerving support for the hospital, as he feels there's a totemic battle brewing to preserve its acute hospital status.

Mr Gallagher said: "The people have a great battle ahead to retain their A&E department and thus Daisy Hill's acute status.

"I am hopeful we can overcome this challenge with the active support and participation of everyone. If the whole community shows self-confidence, and we are thoughtful and optimistic, there are no limits to what we can achieve.

"Our group is meeting with the Southern Health Trust in the near future to get more information and to offer solutions. We will keep the public updated on any new information we obtain. An opportunity for a public discussion on the way forward will be essential." Mr Gallagher expressed his fears about a possible impact on other emergency departments should the Emergency Development close at Daisy Hill.

He said: "If the lights go out in Daisy Hill's A&E they will not come on again and the ripples of this will be felt throughout the health service in the North.

"What then will happen to the accident and emergency departments in the Causeway and Mater Hospitals? How will staff in the larger hospital A&Es cope with the increased workload? "It doesn't make sense to close Daisy Hill A&E if the department wants to provide safer health care throughout the North." Mr Gallagher added that the current political uncertainty at Stormont compounded the precarious nature of the Health Service.

He said: "The situation is made worse because there is no Minister of Health and the Department of Health is now leaderless. There is a great urgency to reform the institutions at Stormont to make them more accountable in order to improve our health service."

He also questioned whether Daisy Hill was receiving an equitable allocation of the Trust's resources in comparison to other hospitals: "The Southern Health Trust is supposed to be a federation and thus share resources - so the question needs to be asked: is Daisy Hill getting its fair share of doctors and other staff that is available to the Trust? "In the light of this latest threat to Daisy Hill, I would be very surprised if the phones in the boardrooms of the Southern Health Trust were not red hot with offers of help from other Trust areas because it is in everyone's interests to keep Daisy Hill's A&E open."

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