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Over 200 visit ED in one day as protesters take to the streets over Daisy Hill threats

Wednesday, 17 May 2017

Over 200 visit ED in one day as protesters take to the streets over Daisy Hill threats thumbnail Mourne campaigners out in force at the rally in support of Daisy Hill Hospital

HUNDREDS of people braved the driving wet weather in support of Daisy Hill Hospital in a weekend which underscored just much the Emergency Department is needed.

Over 200 people attended the Emergency department last Friday (12 May), the day before many people took to the streets in a rally to show their support for the threatened service.

In a statement to The Outlook, the Trust confirmed 200 were people treated at the ED on Friday (12 May), adding it was "a busy day" in the department.

The ED has come under threat of closure in recent months due to the difficulties in recruiting senior medical staff. The Southern Trust had previously said there was a possibility of the service being "temporarily suspended" if senior medical cover could not be found.

A 1m contingency plan to accommodate more patients at Craigavon Area Hospital was also approved in case night-time ED services at Daisy Hill Hospital were temporarily suspended due to staff shortages.

However, earlier this month, the Trust said it had secured system-wide support to sustain 24/7 emergency services at Daisy Hill.

At the public rally on Saturday (13 May), which was organised by Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Chairperson Councillor Gillian Fitzpatrick told the crowd they were there to "support the staff", adding Daisy Hill was "literally a lifesaver ".

Catherine Farrell, UNISON Newry and Mourne branch secretary and also an employee at Daisy Hill Hospital for over four decades, addressed the rally on behalf of the trade unions at the hospital.

"During my 40 years at the hospital, there have been many situations which have put Daisy Hill and its services at risk; but the one constant across all the campaigns which have been mobilised to protect the services there, including this latest threat to reduce the emergency department services, has been the determination of our community that Daisy Hill will continue to provide 24/7 care across its services, including the care provided within our emergency de partment.

"People should not be fooled by the idea that the push to downgrade the A&E department at Daisy Hill is part of some overall grand plan to transform the health service and make it better.

"This has happened because of poor planning and the public should never pay the price for that. This community has a right not to have major changes to its hospital forced upon it.

"The trade unions that I am a representative of are not against the right kinds of reform of the health service, undertaken in genuine partnership with the local community and the workforce - but what we will not accept are any attempts to simply cut services and harm the health of the local community and the livelihoods of our members.

"The Trust and the wider health service needs to get the message about shutting local people out of the decisions that are made about their services is wrong and will always be strongly opposed," she told Daisy Hill supporters.

Frances Gallagher of Daisy Hill Action Group also addressed the crowd as did Robbie Gallagher of the Save Our Emergency Department campaign, who was the last to speak at the rally.

Unite's Newry Community branch unveiled a mural at Canal Street in the city on Friday (12 May) to promote the 'Hands Off Daisy Hill' message.

The mural was produced by local street artist Conor Mc- Ginley whose mother works as a nurse in Daisy Hill.

Martin McKeown, branch secretary, said it was "great to have such talent and commitment in the local community behind the campaign".

Mr McKeown said a commitment by the Trust for the continuation of ED services was "a direct result of the powerful people power campaign which demonstrated our complete opposition to any threat to downgrade the service".

"In the coming days, Unite will be taking our message out to communities from Annalong to Warrenpoint, from Crossmaglen to Newry. We will be launching a car sticker which we are asking people to put up in their vehicles to demonstrate their support for Daisy Hill Hospital," said Mr McKeown .

The Southern Trust said it welcomed all who came out to support Daisy Hill Hospital at the weekend.

In a statement, the Trust said that the rally was "another opportunity for local people to express support for the hospital and the excellent services provided by our staff".

"The rally organisers say it will focus on supporting the retention of acute services at Daisy Hill. We would emphasise that the Trust is also absolutely committed to this - the 8 million investment in a new paediatric centre on the sixth floor is just one recent example of this commitment.

"We have listened to, and understand, the community's concerns about the Emergency Department and we are doing everything possible to keep a safe, sustainable 24/7 Emergency Service in Daisy Hill Hospital.

"Following the recent summit convened by the Department of Health we are fully engaged with HSC stakeholder organisations to pursue actions to stabilise and sustain the ED service - in particular a Daisy Hill Hospital Pathfinder Group has been tasked to produce an acute and emergency care implementation plan by September 2017.

"In the interim period action is underway to stabilise the rota in the ED, and detailed discussions are continuing with colleagues in other Trusts - these are progressing positively.

"The Trust senior team will be meeting with party representatives from Newry, Mourne and Down District Council early this week to discuss their concerns, and we look forward to working closely with the Council in future, " said a Trust statement.

A Trust spokesperson added: "Friday was a busy but not exceptional day in the Emergency Department at Daisy Hill Hospital with 200 people attending.

Attendances on Saturday and Sunday were average.

"The Trust remains committed to delivering safe, sustainable 24/7 emergency services at Daisy Hill and work to stabilise the rota in the ED continues . "

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