Newry.ie

With a roadmap for the future of Daisy Hill Hospital’s Emergency Department now a reality it seems that years of campaigning by individuals and groups representing the Newry community has finally paid off with a £1.6M investment package confirmed.

Following intense campaining after the Southern Trust highlighted their difficulties in maintaining a safe and sustainable Emergency Department service at Daisy Hil a Pathfinder Group was set up to find a way forward. The group, a partnership between the local community, workforce and the health and social care system directly resulted in todays confirmed investment package.

People power - This Daisy Hill protest attracted hundreds to the headquarters of the Southern Trust in 2017. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
People power - This Daisy Hill protest attracted hundreds to the headquarters of the Southern Trust in 2017. Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

Today's announcement by the Department of Health has been welcomed across the board. The financial injection includes an initial £650,000 this year from the Department’s health and social care transformation fund but also includes a £1 million capital funding allocation this year from the Southern Trust, to improve infrastructure at the hospital site

The £650,000 investment involves: transforming and modernising services for patient assessment, diagnostics, discharge and care in the community; strengthening primary care and links between primary and secondary care; diversifying and strengthening the workforce; ensuring that the existing hospital-based services are secured; and investing in the leadership at Daisy Hill Hospital through the appointment of a new director for the hospital.

Thanks to the Southern Trust’s £1million capital investment a new admissions and assessment unit will be established alongside the Emergency Department. This will help ensure attending patients receive the most appropriate care and treatment.

Department of Health Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly said: “Co-production is much more than just a buzzword in health and social care.

“It means working step by step with those who deliver and use services to build for the future by sharing the evidence about how best to meet the healthcare needs of local populations and taking the right decisions for the right reasons.

“Today’s Daisy Hill Hospital announcement shows co-production in action – and delivering for everyone.

“Great credit and thanks must go to the Pathfinder Group, and to the workforce and community representatives who have helped make this happen.”

Southern Trust chief executive Shane Devlin said: “We are delighted that today investment to support urgent care in the Newry and Mourne area has been confirmed by the Department. This is the first stage of a viable long-term plan.

“All of us involved in the Pathfinder process wanted the same thing – a service that would be sustainable for years to come.

“The support, engagement and enthusiasm of the local community, working alongside our staff, has been key to helping us to firstly secure local services, and to then work with us to develop a plan that will transform our services to meet the specific needs of the local population.

“We have developed a model for services that reflects what the local community needs – and the support of the Department of Health shows their confidence in this ground-breaking process.”

The Community

The Save Our Emergency Department group commented on their Facebook page "We are delighted to let you all know that the Department of Health have announced funding to ensure that Daisy Hill Hospitals ED remains open 24/7!!!!!

"Not only that but they have backed the plans to develop the hospital in other areas to allow for the provision of health care our community deserves.

"This absolutely would not have happened without the unbelievable support shown by the community. We couldn’t begin to list you all, but from the bottom of our hearts, thank you for getting behind this and making the campaign the success it has been. Onwards we go"

Francis Gallagher of Daisy Hill Action Group added "We welcome this news as a significant step forward for health care in the area. Its a fraction of the investment that is really needed but its important as a confidence building measure for the future of Daisy Hill. This will be especially important when it comes to attracting more doctors and nurses.  The Daisy Hill Action Group will continue to apply ourselves to making sure the Department sustains this support through the pathfinder project."

"The people have played a vital part in this step forward and the astuteness of the other campaigners have been paramount. We must keep things moving forward. We will be consulting with the community on a regular basis through public meetings, press and social media."

Political Reaction

Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty has welcomed confirmation of the investment.

“It is extremely welcome that Daisy Hill Hospital is to get an initial £1.65 million investment to help fund urgent and emergency care, specifically in relation to recruitment and restructuring the Emergency Department model.

“This money will go some way in ensuring that services are both protected and sustainable. While I welcome any money that is being made available for Daisy Hill, it is essential that investment continues to provide assurances after years of campaigning.

“This is a vital step in ensuring that services at Daisy Hill are secured after a period of uncertainty over the future of the Emergency Department. Much of this money will go into strengthening the workforce which is imperative following a period of staffing challenges.

A public meeting in the Canal Court in 2017 hadn't even standing room left! Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie
A public meeting in the Canal Court in 2017 hadn't even standing room left! Photograph: Columba O'Hare/ Newry.ie

“Part of this investment will also help to establish a new admissions and assessment unit to run alongside the Emergency Department, providing telephone advice to GPs and paramedics and will also allow some elderly patients to bypass the Emergency Department. This will help to streamline efficiency and also ensure that people receive the best care possible.

“I must acknowledge the hard work of local people who have been campaigning for years to protect our Emergency Department and those involved in the Pathfinder Group. I have been working and pressing on this issue and the SDLP has consistently made clear that the closure of any services at Daisy Hill Accident and Emergency would not be accepted.

“The people of Newry, South Armagh and South Down on hearing this news will feel a lot safer knowing now that if we need urgent emergency care we do not need to travel to Craigavon. We can continue to be cared for in the hospital that is at the heart of our community.”

MLA Conor Murphy also  welcomed the Daisy Hill announcement.

“This investment is very welcome news and  boost to local health services for citizens in Newry and Armagh, and across the Southern Trust area. It is also a welcome but overdue recognition of the importance of frontline services in Daisy Hill” said the local MLA

The MLA continued “This investment will help allay the concerns that many had after the suggested temporary suspension of access to services at Daisy Hill A&E meant the downgrading of the Emergency Department.

Staff, Communities, Voluntary & Community Groups and Political representativeness stood together against any any reduction of services and today’s announcement is a clear vindication of the campaign to “Save Our Services” in Daisy Hill”.

“This investment acknowledges the importance of Daisy Hill Hospital, the dedication of its staff and the life saving services it provides to the local community.'

Cllr David Taylor added "Very welcome news that £1.65 million will be invested in emergency services at Daisy Hill Hospital. I want to pay tribute to all those who campaigned so hard to secure this support. The local community is delighted with this positive development"

 

 

 

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