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Crunch talks underway on crisis-hit Daisy Hill

Thursday, 4 May 2017

Crunch talks underway on crisis-hit Daisy Hill thumbnailThe protest at last week’s board meeting

A REGIONAL summit to discuss the future of the emergency department at crisis-hit Daisy Hill Hospital is to get underway early this week.

The crunch talks have been called by the Southern Trust in a bid to explore options to save the beleaguered hospital's A&E service from being axed.

The announcement was made by the Trust board last week during a meeting that was beset by angry scenes outside its headquarters in Craigavon when public campaigners tried to gain access to proceedings inside.

Days earlier around 800 people attended a rally in Newry, which was organised by the Daisy Hill Hospital Action Group.

The protest was sparked after the Trust warned that the long-term future of the ED is "unsustainable" due to a reliance on locums to fill staff posts, prompting calls that it may be left with no option but to temporarily suspend overnight A&E services due to staffing difficulties.

A major protest rally is expected to take place in Newry on May 13 with organisers predicting that it will attract tens of thousands of people.

Meanwhile, it is understood plans for the Trust to carry out a public consultation on the future of Daisy Hill have been shelved, or post-poned, in favour of the summit.

A consultation process typically takes 12 weeks and involves the Trust liaising with the public and community groups, with its findings presented to the Health and Social Care Board, with subsequent approval made by the Department of Health.

The Trust, however, said the regional summit presented an opportunity to explore options to "safely sustain" ED services at Daisy Hill. "The Trust Board is fully committed to Daisy Hill Hospital, and will explore every option to keep the Emergency Department open, as long as services can be safely provided," explained Trust Interim Chief Executive, Stephen McNally.

"This summit will bring together the collective expertise of health professionals from across Northern Ireland to support our efforts in maintaining the service in future," said Mr McNally.

The meeting will be attended by the Health and Social Care Board, the Public Health Agency, Belfast Trust, the Ambulance Service, the NI Medical and Dental Training Agency and the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority.

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