Sinn Féin - On Your Side

West Tyrone representatives meet Health Minister over Tyrone County services

27 January, 2009

West Tyrone Sinn Féin MP MLA Pat Doherty has described a meeting with Health Minister Michael McGimpsey and local MLAs to discuss the announcement by the Western Health Trust that the admission of acute patients to the Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh would cease as and from April of this year as robust and frank.

Yesterday afternoon's meeting with Minister McGimpsey and officials from the Department of Health and Western Health Trust was attended by 5 West Tyrone MLAs (3 Sinn Fein/2 DUP), a cross party delegation from Omagh District Council and Council Chief Executive Danny Mc Sorely .

Speaking after the meeting Pat Doherty said:

"West Tyrone representatives at the meeting were scathing about the manner in which the Trust communicated this announcement and particularly over its failure to liaise with the Council Liaison Committee about what they had decided until the morning of the announcement itself.

"We put it to the Minister that previous commitments from the Department that acute admissions at Tyrone County would continue up until a new Acute Service hospital became operational at the Erne had been broken and that the Trust had not tried its utmost to retain and recruit the appropriate staff to ensure these commitments were fulfilled.

"While the Minister was highly critical of the Trust's failure to liaise and communicate in an appropriate way he nonetheless defended its announcement citing the lack of availability of general purpose medical professionals and the adoption of a new model of medical specializations within the Western Board Area as the reason why the acute admission service at Tyrone County had to be withdrawn at this stage.

"However, he went on to say that he would not have given the green light for the substantial investment in the new build hospital in Omagh if it was not planned for the Tyrone County be part of the planned specialized network along with Altnagelvin and the Erne.

"Many will be sceptical about this, but it will now be up to the Trust to work in genuine partnership with the Council Liaison Group to prove that it is committed to once again to building up services at Tyrone County so that it is an equal partner in the Western Board Network."

The issue was also discussed at a specially convened meeting of Omagh District Council last night at which a motion of no confidence in the Western trust was passed including backing for a call on the Health Minister to scrap the plans to withdraw the acute services targeted by the Trust.

Speaking after the meeting Sinn Fein Cllr Ann Marie Fitzgerald said:

"Any confidence in the ability of the Trust to treat the health service needs of the people of this area in a fair and equitable way has completely broken down. The Trust and the Department have a major body of work to do to prove that they are committed to improving the level of acute and emergency provision that is required." ENDS

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