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Could cross-border element secure A&E?

Encouraging more cross-border patients into Daisy Hill hospital could secure its acute status, the health minister has said. About 10 per cent of emergency admissions to the hospital already come from the Republic. Daisy Hill has been more accessible for patients in north Louth and Monaghan since the closure of Louth A&E last year. The biggest health review in a generation has outlined a roadmap for health and social care in Northern Ireland with only 5 to 7 acute hospital sites to remain operational. It has raised fears that Daisy Hill’s emergency department could go by 2016. During a meeting of the Assembly’s health committee, Newry and Armagh MLA Mickey Brady asked for reassurance from Health Minister Edwin Poots that the downgrading of Daisy Hill emergency department was not a “done deal”. John Compton who is one of the authors of the healthcare roadmap denied the loss of Daisy Hill’s acute service has already been decided. Health Minister Edwin Poots only safe sustainable and resilient acute hospitals will survive. He acknowledged he had conversations with his ministerial counterpart in the Republic about extending services at Daisy Hill to cover the cross-border population. “If they (southern government) are happy to pay for those services, we are happy to supply them,” he said. The Southern Health Trust chief executive is keen that Daisy Hill hospital is sustained in its current form; that is a good starting point. The hospital as it currently exists in the bigger model for the future would not be something that is sustainable and needs either to expand services or tend to contract from it. The trajectory of this is about drawing more people to Daisy Hill. These don’t exist in Northern Ireland so it is a matter of people in North Louth and Monaghan using that service and I thinks that is something that is reasonable.” Speaking after the health review was revealed Crotlieve councillor Declan McAteer said increasing cross-border patients wasn’t a panacea to keep the hospital’s acute services. ” The number of (patients coming from the South) may not be as widespread to allow the figures to add up to save Daisy Hill’s acute service. It would take a major cross-border initiative by the ministers concerned is a clearly set out deal rather than a hit and hope approach.” South Down MLA Karen McKevitt said any downgrading of the status of Daisy Hill as an acute hospital would make delivery of a coherent and consistent health service impossible. “It is very important that acute services and particularly A&E are located on the basis or operational rather than administrative requirements. We have seen a drift of services from Daisy Hill to Craigavon but this cannot be allowed to happen with A&E in particular. That would put large population centres at the heart of a huge blank covering most of Armagh and Down most of Louth and all of Monaghan. That would mean the busiest sections of the major road and rail corridors on this island being without close A&E cover. The consequences for my own constituency would be terrible as a glance at the map will show. How on earth could A&E cover from Belfast or Craigavon stretch out to Kilkeel or Aticall?”


Newry Reporter

21st December 2011