23/01/2009

McGimpsey Defends Omagh Acute Hospital Loss

People in the Omagh area will continue to benefit from a wide range of hospital services which will meet their needs well into the future, despite concerns over the removal of acute services from the local hospital.

Northern Ireland Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey (pictured here) said that the decision to no longer admit acutely ill medical patients to the Tyrone County Hospital - by the beginning of March - is being criticised, but insisted that the Western Health Trust will now move to provide the range of services anticipated in the new £190 million enhanced local hospital.

The Minister said: "I realise that the decision by the Western Trust will be seen by some as a blow to the local community.
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"I understand their disappointment that this step has had to be taken at this time, however, the Trust has advised me that these services are simply no longer sustainable," he said, noting this was also emphasised to the Chief Medical Officer and Chief Nursing Officer during their recent visits to the Erne and Tyrone County hospitals.

"I have always said that I would continue to maintain acute services at the Tyrone County as long as it was safe to do so, and all the evidence indicates that this is no longer possible," he continued.

"Patient safety must come first and I support the Western HSC Trust's decision to consolidate acute impatient services at the Erne and Altnagelvin hospital sites.

"This will help ensure that hospitals in the West continue to provide the highest quality and safest services possible not just for today but into the future," he insisted, noting that the current '24/7 Urgent Care and Treatment Centre' will continue and from March will be doctor-led, and delivered by highly skilled and experienced nurses.

"The Trust will now start the process of introducing the comprehensive range of new and additional services which have been planned for the new hospital.

"I am confident that these services, in conjunction with primary care, will provide the local community with the vast majority of their healthcare needs," he said.

(BMcC/JM)

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