The removal of emergency general surgery from Daisy Hill Hospital is “downgrade by stealth” according to Newry & Armagh MLA Justin McNulty who asks “Are we going to let them tear down Daisy Hill brick by brick, or are we going to take a stand” Workers Party representative Nicola Grant has also urged everyone to make their views known in a public consultation on the matter which has been announced.
The MLA has hit out at the ‘appalling lack of honesty’ from the Southern Trust on the future of emergency surgical services at Daisy Hill Hospital. The Trust announced a ‘temporary’ withdrawal of emergency surgery in January 2022. At that time Director of Acute Services, Melanie McClements said “I would like to pay tribute to our surgical team for their continued commitment despite these mounting pressures and thank staff at both Daisy Hill and Craigavon for their flexibility in supporting these temporary arrangements.”
Speaking after the announcement Mr McNulty said “I find the level of dishonesty and doublespeak coming from the Trust to be completely outrageous. It’s not just that they’ve broken their word, it’s that they attempted to discredit those of us who spoke up against them when we could see what they were doing.
“The Trust have repeatedly told us that they simply cannot find general surgeons to work in Daisy Hill – but the last time they recruited for the positions was 4 years ago.
“The Trust have said that they can’t get general surgeons to work in Daisy Hill, yet when I challenged the Department on the nature of contracts for surgeons, they confirmed that all surgeons in the Southern Trust can be required to work on either of the two hospital sites. Why then have the Trust allowed the service to collapse at Daisy Hill, rather than redeploying a small number of surgeons from Craigavon?
“We have also been told that general surgery is ‘a thing of the past’ and that surgeons aren’t trained that way anymore. But when I challenged the Trust on why there has been a 34% increase in the number of general surgeons in the NHS system in England, they had nothing to say. “
The Newry and Armagh MLA added “We all know that the health service is under extraordinary pressure. But it can never be the case that the solution to those challenges is to pull the shutter down on services and push even more people into already overcrowded hospitals.
“I could understand if the Trust had moved mountains to try and secure Daisy Hill. I could understand if they had thrown absolutely everything at shoring up services and protecting our local hospital. But far from making an effort, they have offered excuse after excuse, none of which holds up to scrutiny. This is downgrade by stealth, and the people of Newry, South Armagh, and South Down have a decision to make. Are we going to let them tear down Daisy Hill brick by brick, or are we going to take a stand?”
Mr McNulty said that in the absence of a Health Minister at Stormont he finds it absolutely astonishing that unelected and unaccountable Trust officials think that they have the right to make major decisions on health which will have long-term and significant impacts on our communities.
He concluded “My position on this is very simple: the actions of the Trust are dishonest, and they are damaging to our community. I will be opposing their assault on Daisy Hill every step of the way, and I am asking everyone in Newry, South Armagh, and South Down to join me in fighting this.”
Nicola Grant of the Workers Party has called the move “a major body blow to the hospital and the local community”
“We were told last February that the transfer of the service to Craigavon was a temporary measure. Many of us were sceptical at the time and those fears now appear to have been well founded.
“Drip feeding information and making announcements by instalments is undermining public and staff confidence.”
Ms Grant believes we need to see an overall plan for the future of health and care services and discuss it openly.
“I am urging everyone concerned with the provision of health care and with the future of Daisy Hill Hospital to make their views know the the Trust through the public consultation process which was announced earlier”, Ms Grant concluded.
You can find out information about the Consultation or download and fill in a questionaire at southerntrust.hscni.net