12/06/2002

Proposed acute hospital plan sparks row

Proposals to reform hospital services in Northern Ireland have met with a mixed response from local politicians.

Published by Health Minister Bairbre de Brún, the document contains a hotly contested proposal to locate a new acute hospital in Enniskillen, while closing the current acute facilities in Omagh.

Explaining the need for change, the Minister said: "A modern hospital system that will meet the needs of all our people, well into the future, will require a fundamental change in the way that services are delivered and administered."

The Minister added that the proposals were not about reducing services, but increasing efficiency and building "firm foundations for the future".

Reaction to the document was swift, with politicians lining up to welcome or condemn the suggested closure based on location rather than along traditional party lines. Indeed, representatives in Omagh have issued reactions fiercely at odds with those of their party colleagues in Enniskillen.

Pat Doherty, West Tyrone Sinn Fein MP urged Omagh residents to "come out fighting" and described the recommendation to locate the new acute hospital in Enniskillen as "completely wrong", while Joe Byrne, SDLP Assembly member for West Tyrone described the plan as a "Cromwellian healthcare policy for the people of Tyrone."

Mr Byrne pointed out that hospitals in both Sligo and Cavan ensured less need in Enniskillen for acute services, as ambulances no longer stopped at the border. He also expressed amazement that Ms de Brun's plan was based on a six-county rather than an all-Ireland approach.

Conversely, the SDLP's Tommy Gallagher, MLA for Fermanagh/South Tyrone and Deputy Chair of The Assembly's Health Committee welcomed the proposal, citing it as "very good news for the people of Fermanagh."

Michelle Gildernew, Sinn Fein MP for Fermanagh/South Tyrone also welcomed the planned move, claiming it redressed a history of neglect in the region.

Minister de Brún's proposals are based heavily on the Hayes Report, issued last summer by a taskforce appointed to review Northern Ireland’s acute hospitals.

The report advised streamlining these services into nine main hospitals – thus downgrading seven of the province’s remaining smaller hospitals.

(GB)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

27 November 2019
Teen Girl Dies After Falling Into River
A teenage girl has died after falling into a river in Larne. It's understood the 14 year-old fell into the water on Tuesday night, 26 November. Emergency services scrambled to the Inver River, where a search operation was carried out. A post-mortem is due to take place.
10 August 2012
Accident Man Sent Home From Casualty Hours After Losing Two Fingers
A man who lost two fingers in a lawnmower accident was sent home just two and a half hours after attending hospital, the Impartial Reporter newspaper has reported. School bus driver Johnny Nelson, from Tamlaght, visited the new £276m South West Acute Hospital after his accident, which happened while he was taking a grass box off a lawnmower.
11 June 2002
Tyrone County hospital set to lose acute services
Local assembly members have expressed their concern over the proposal to remove acute and life saving emergency services from Tyrone County Hospital. The proposals, as recommended in the Hayes Report, are expected to be endorsed by the Health Minister Bairbre de Brún tomorrow in a consultation document.
26 March 2003
UUP 'concerned' over health provision in south west
The Ulster Unionist Party has voiced its concerns over the status of health provision in Mid-Ulster, with party leader David Trimble pledging to raise the issue when the assembly gets back on track. Mr Trimble voiced his "serious concerns" over the growing gap in provision of hospital services in Tyrone.
15 January 2003
Acute hospital decision due by end of January
The decision on where to site the new hospital for the south west will be taken by the end of January, according to the NIO Health Minister Des Browne. Mr Browne made his comments following a meeting today with a delegation from the Hospital Campaign for the Rural West, which advocates Omagh as the site of the new acute services hospital.