Trust Challenged By Speakers At Monthly Meeting

Mr McCaughey explained that the Trust believed that the reform and modernisation proposals were the best way to underpin the succes of the Downe hospital. He added, “We are 100% committed to the Downe Hospital which has seen more patients and more services since its opening. We are determined to deliver services and put in new ones.” [caption id="attachment_20837" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="Speaking at the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust monthly board meeting were Down District Councillor Colin McGrath with Dick Shannon MBE, Chairman of the Ardglass and District Health Support Group, and Eamonn McGrady, Down Community Health Committee Chairman."][/caption] The Trust Board Chairman,  Colm McKenna, in addressing the funding shortfall that will emerge from the NI Assembly budget on March 14th, also said that, “We have met the politicians and the parties, and put the arguments to them about the future of the health service. In Northern Ireland we spend less per head of the population than done in the UK. Health is being protected in the UK and I call on the public to try and stop this development before it is too late.” Taking the opportunity to avail of speaking rights at the meeting, three health campaigners addressed the non-executive board. The first speaker, Eamonn McGrady, Chairman of the Down Community Health Committee, called on the Trust to reject the consultation proposals on the A&E, psychiatric care and disability. He said, “This was a flawed consultation process with a predetermined outcome.” He added that all public representatives need to challenge the MInister’s decision in supporting  the proposals, and that all local MLA’s need to address this issue on the floor of the Assembly. He said, “This is about local acccountability and democracy . Otherise, the people will decide themselves during the elections on May 5th.” Dick Shannon MBE, Chairman of the Ardglass and District Health Support Group, also emphatically opposed the Minister’s approval, said, “It is the view of many people in our community that your propsals are ill conceived, fundamentally flawed, sometimes downright dangerous and entirely at odds with the express wishes of our community. The fig leaf of consultation has fallen to reveal the ugly, pre-determined outcome we feared.” Mr Shannon then said,  “We as a community are not impressed on intimidated by ‘suggestions’ from you that your entire local enhanced hospital will be jeopardised if your proposals to downgrade our  A&E are not implemented. These ‘suggestions’ are perceived by many as threats, and we will not be threatened. “Your failure to secure community support for your proposals is nothing to do with your communications, as you seem to think. It is to do with your proposals being widely scrutised and then rejected.” [caption id="attachment_20838" align="alignright" width="400" caption="Attending the monthly South Eastern HSC Trust board meeting were PJ O'Hare, Sid Wright, Councillor Lam Johnston, Detmot McNabb, Vice Chairman of the Down Community Health Committee, Pat Ward, and Councillor Mickey Coogan."][/caption] McGrath Addresses Key Issues On Local Health Care Down District Councillor Colin McGrath then also challenged the Trust non-executive board and the Directors saying, “We have seen a massive new build of a hospital in Downpatrick and whilst this is wonderful I do feel you can take little credit as really it was the work and output of those that came before you and I congratulate those direct rule ministers who worked with local politicians to secure the hospital. “I mention direct rule ministers because they ironically were always better for the health of Down people than local Ministers, with Minister de Brun  who closed our maternity and Minister McGimpsy presiding over a slow painful death to our new services. “We welcome cataract services, bowel screening as a regional service, and dental surgery at the new facility is admirable, but it is a life saving capacity that we demand. It is essential for the critical care that we want and it is full medical-led diagnostic and intervention based medicine that we insist upon.” Councillor McGrath acused the Trust of passing a “ blood stained knife used on our A&E services on to the Minister and he and his party can be held accountable for that decision on the 6th May.” He also addressed the issue of the stores department near the Downshire Estate and commended the service they provide for the people of the district. “But Trust Board you are in the midst of a review of leased property, “he said, “and your own spokesperson this week is quoted as saying ‘as part of an ongoing review of leased properties we are reviewing the services provided within them. Any new services will be significantly improved and we are working with our in-house providers to develop new.’ “You have previously promised us you would: *  significantly improve services for the residents of St John’s, *  how you would  significantly improve services for residents of Grove House, *  how you significantly improved services in Ward 3 of the new hospital *  and now you tell us that the new A&E system will significantly improve matters. “The removal of services will bring about a significant improvement you say, but I have learnt your language and know that that means cut, cut, cut. “As you are in the middle of this reorganisation and review I implore you not to remove this service. “It means that local people employed will have to relocate. That is unfair. Also, people will have to get large amounts of medical supplies delivered to their homes because there is nowhere nearby to locate them – maybe even getting up to three months supplies at a time instead of one. “This will effectively turns patient’s homes into stores- and is not an acceptable practice “Finally the delivery staff will spend more time on the road driving between here and the new new stores and less time doing the work they want to do which is to bring supplies to local people. “I know personally the value of this local service and would ask that you retain it. The delivery of health services is not a balancing act. It’s about delivering health services matched to need. “We have a need for a consultant-led A &E unit 24-hours per day. Stand in it last Tuesday night – go and check your figures and see that at 10pm last Tuesday night it was bunged to capacity. “We need our 24-hour A&E unit. Also, Coronary Care beds are filled with people with swine flu? There are trolley waits on the corridors. Why? Because you shut Ward 3.  And elderly patients are lonely because their families are miles away from them. Patients are blocking beds in hospitals cause there is nowhere for them to go to. “I know one constituent in Strangford whose 85-year old father had to travel 70 miles round trip every day to see his 84 year old wife cause there were no care home places in the Downpatrick area. We need the likes of St John’s and Grove House retained not shut.”]]>