Local Health Issues: Discussions and Developments

O’Neill: A&E Services Expert Advises on Downe Hospital SDLP Down District Chairman Councillor Eamonn O’Neill has welcomed an A&E services specialist, Professor Page, to meet the Downe Hospital Taskforce group set up in Down District Council to give expert advice on future services at the hospital. Councillor O’Neill, who established the Downe Hospital taskforce group which includes councillors, GPs, people involved in local health care and health campaigners, said, “Professor Graham Page is an expert in the field of Accident and Emergency services and we were grateful that he took the time out to advise us on what services we specifically require in Down District. “I am hopeful that he will steer us on how to counter some of the decisions made by the Health Minister against services at the Downe Hospital and will provide us with informed knowledge on how our hospital should be run. “People in Down District need a 24-hour A&E service nearby and we will do all we can to press  the Health Minister to re-open and re-examine the Downe Hospital case rather than axing services at this vital state-of-the-art facility.” [caption id="attachment_11996" align="alignleft" width="300" caption="Health MInister Michael McGimpsey at the  official opening of the new Downe Hospital last year."][/caption] Professor Page indicated that one aspect of the practice of health care in the North-East of Scotland was the development of tele medicine. While the delivery of health services in the South Eatern HSC Trust area is evolving, and while health campaigners argue that some services have improved but there are serious questions to be asked about essential services such as the A&E in the new Downe Hospital, there is a stand-off between the Trust and the campaigners. The uncertainty and lack of confidence over the Trust’s new reform and modernisation proposals continues  despite strong efforts by the Trust management to counteract this. The media have been largely blamed by the Trust for adding to this lack of confidence. However, campaigners question the Trust commitment to delivering the essetial 24-hour A&E service while the Trust argue it has faced recruitment issues and that the A&E is not sustainable in its form of 24-hour led consutltatnt cover. An out of hours GP-led system is now in operation from 10pm to 8am daily. This issue may end up yet with a judicial review deciding the outcome. McGimpsey:  Welcomes Telehealth For Patients Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has welcomed a new contract for the health service to bring remote monitoring technology to patients in their own homes. This new development will be of interest in addressing the issue of patients who may find for a number of reasons, including rural isolation, that they have difficlutie sin acessing central medical services. Patients with heart and respiratory conditions, diabetes and those who have suffered a stroke can have their vital signs, such as pulse, blood pressure and body weight, tested at home on a daily basis and monitored centrally. The Minister said, “This is a wonderful achievement for the health service in Northern Ireland. The pressures on our health budget over the coming years together with challenging demographic trends such as an ageing population, mean that the health service is going to have to find new ways to ensure that we continue to provide a high quality service.” He continued: “With increasing numbers of people presenting with more and more complex needs and extremely high expectations of the health service, we must continue to provide the highest possible standard of care. There is no doubt that remote telemonitoring is a prime example of the innovation that will be required going forward.” The Minister went on to congratulate all those involved in bringing the contract to this point, including the European Centre for Connected Health in the Public Health Agency, Trust staff who helped develop the service and TF3 as contract winners. He said: “This new service will mean a better experience and better outcomes for many of our patients, with earlier interventions when they have a flare-up and fewer spells in hospital as a result.” Dr Eddie Rooney, Public Health Agency added: “The agreement of contracts for remote telemonitoring today represents a significant step towards meeting the challenges of providing quality care for the growing number of people with heart disease, COPD, stroke and diabetes who want to live at home while having their conditions safely managed. “The use of this technology will give people more information, and hence control, over their health while supporting them to live independently in their own homes for longer. Families and carers will also benefit from the reassurance that chronic health conditions are being closely monitored on an ongoing basis.” The successful bidders, TF3, will provide the service, which will alert care providers to any change in their patients’ daily readings that might mean a deterioration in their condition, so that they can decide whether an intervention is necessary. This represents an investment of £18million over six years in the management of long term conditions. Jon Lowe, Managing Director of TF3, said, “The TF3 Consortium comprises Tunstall Healthcare, Fold Housing Association and S3, and as the largest provider of telecare and telehealth systems in Northern Ireland and the UK, we would like to thank the ECCH and the Health Trusts for the opportunity to deliver this programme. TF3 are fully committed to telehealth which has been shown to support improved health outcomes, earlier interventions and enhanced self-care.”]]>