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Daisy Hill Future Group Meet with Department of Health Permanent Secretary, Peter May

The Daisy Hill Future Group met with Peter May, the Permanent Secretary at the Department of Health and his senior advisors on Wednesday 26th July to discuss the Southern Trust’s plans to stabilise the medical workforce and ensure continuity of services at Daisy Hill Hospital.

The Future Group’s representatives sought this meeting with the leadership of the Department of Health to raise their concerns that despite the Trust in June having announced an urgent service stabilisation plan in response to the widely reported consultant staffing issues in General Medicine at Daisy Hill Hospital there had been a lack of communication from the Trust with respect to how its plans were progressing.

At the meeting, the Future Group’s representatives took the opportunity to reinforce their commitment to ensuring that services at Daisy Hill Hospital were not just stabilised but developed and enhanced. They sought and secured from Peter May an assurance that Daisy Hill Hospital would remain a key part of the hospital network in Northern Ireland.

Furthermore, Peter May and his senior advisors agreed with the Future Group’s analysis that a failure to resolve Daisy Hill Hospital’s current staffing difficulties would have a significant detrimental impact on an already fragile healthcare system in Northern Ireland. The Future Group pressed the point that, as we face into the ever-increasing pressure that winter imposes on our
hospitals, it is absolutely vital that all options to address the staffing challenges at Daisy Hill Hospital are pursued.

The Future Group is clear that, while recent announcements regarding the installation of an MRI scanner at Daisy Hill Hospital and the increase in planned (elective) surgeries are very welcome demonstrations of the Department of Health’s and the Trust’s commitment to develop services on the site, significant work remains to be done.

In particular, ensuring that the excellent 24/7 Emergency Department at Daisy Hill Hospital continues to have access to the specialist medical support that it needs to continue to provide high-quality emergency care.

The Future Group emphasised the need for regular communication with healthcare staff and the population of South East Ulster to allay the fears that Daisy Hill Hospital would be downgraded or closed. Peter May again assured the Group that there was no intention or plan to close the hospital. He said that a regional review was underway to make sure that every acute hospital in Northern Ireland could continue to deliver high quality acute medical services within an integrated system.

The Future Group welcomes the Trust’s recent decision to establish an Independent Expert Panel of highly experienced people with Daisy Hill Hospital’s interests at heart (including representatives of the Daisy Hill Hospital Future Group) to work directly with clinicians and management to inform and advise on the planning and implementation of short, medium and long term plans for the stabilisation and development of Daisy Hill Hospital.

The Future Group will continue to meet with the Trust and Permanent Secretary to lobby for the resources needed for Daisy Hill Hospital and to get the assurances that staff and the public need that Daisy Hill Hospital will survive and thrive as an important part of Northern Ireland’s hospital network.

Photo Caption:
Meeting Department of Health Permanent Secretary, Peter May and his senior colleagues, Paul Kavanagh and Sharon Gallagher on July 26th 2023 were Daisy Hill Hospital Future Group representatives: Dr Conor Patterson, DHH Future Group Chair, Conor Murphy MLA, Councillor David Taylor, Retired Hospital Consultant, Donal Duffin and Karl Hughes. Also at the meeting but not pictured was Mairead McAlinden, Former CEO of the Southern Trust & Bengoa Expert Panel Member.

Any enquiries, email DHH Future Group Chair, Dr Conor Patterson: