Down Community Health Committee calls for everyone involved in delivering health systems in Northern Ireland to to consider the impacts of hospital centralisation.
With increasing concerns in County Down about the future of the local, provincial hospitals and health provision, the Down Community Health Committee (DCHC) has called on the Minister for Health, the Department of Health, Health and Social Care Trusts across Northern Ireland and political decision makers to reflect upon the consequences of forty years of centralisation of health services in a handful of “golden” hospitals.
Committee chairperson Eamonn McGrady said that the rebuilding of post-Covid health and social care services afforded “a particular, unique opportunity” for those charged with health and social care decision making to reverse the “seriously flawed policies of the past and restore a balanced and fair model of healthcare that would meet the needs of the entire community, deliver on the task of tackling health inequalities, be more economic, effective and efficient.”
Mr McGrady added: “ There is an excellent opportunity now for decision makers, rather than rushing ahead to implement flawed decisions, pursuing an old and failed agenda, to look afresh instead at what can be done with existing resources and with modest additional capital spend, to concentrate efforts now in rebuilding and expanding service provision in smaller hospitals.
“Later this week, we will be writing directly to senior politicians, those who bear the ultimate responsibility for healthcare decision making, providing them with substantial evidence about the importance of smaller hospitals, the role they play in England and the Republic of Ireland and busting some of the myths that have influenced decision making in Northern Ireland for years.”
Veteran health campaigner Ann Trainor pointed out that it has been “extraordinarily convenient for some to ignore the potential of smaller hospitals. In doing so ignoring the superior models of care involving their utilisation elsewhere and focusing instead on the easy option of centralisation despite the policy of yesteryear leaving us facing into a pandemic short of hospital beds, short of intensive care beds and equipment, staff to operate them and even PPE for the staff to wear.”
Ann Trainor added: “It is time to go right back to first principles. It is the people who own the NHS. It is the people who fund it, which they do with a heart and a half.
“And it is the people who use it. We are the custodians of it from one generation to the next. This generation will not be the one that fails it”.
With a Stormont election looming in 2022, political parties will be held to account as they face scrutiny by the electorate on the most pressing of issues… health.