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Doherty tells Woodward to retain and develop life saving services at Tyrone County Hospital

23 November, 2005

Sinn Féin West Tyrone MP Pat Doherty will seek a firm commitment from NIO Health Minister Séan Woodward to retain and develop life saving services at Tyrone County Hospital at a crunch meeting in London later today.

The local MP will present the Minister with comprehensive Sinn Féin proposals that would satisfy the core demands of the people of the county for access to life-saving services based in Omagh and for a comprehensive profile of other services that would ensure the long-term sustainability of the hospital.

Mr Doherty requested the urgent meeting with Shaun Woodward on the basis that Sinn Féin has made substantial progress in in-depth discussions with the DHSSPS, the WHSSB and the Sperrin Lakeland Trust.

Mr Doherty said:

"As the local MP it is my responsibility to exhaust every possible avenue to ensure that the maximum level of services are not only retained but developed at Tyrone County and to ensure that services did not collapse altogether through non-engagement.

"Sinn Féin has been engaged in intensive discussions with the Department of Health, the Western Board and the Sperrin Lakeland Trust since May. Throughout these discussions Sinn Féin have argued that Emergency services are not a specialised service but are a core service that is essential to meeting the health needs of any area with a catchments population such as that of Tyrone County.

"Everyone accepts that emergencies will take place that will require stabilisation at Tyrone County before being moved to a hospital which specialises in specific medical conditions but the thrust of our argument has been that there is no reason why the vast majority of emergency cases cannot be dealt with at Tyrone County.

"I believe that we have made substantial progress in our discussion with the Department, Board and Trust. This time last year we were faced with the nightmare scenario of having only a nurse led minor injuries unit at Tyrone County. Now we have moved these agencies to a situation whereby we can realistically expect 24hour/7day a week emergency cover, which would deal with the vast majority of emergency cases, far surpassing what currently exists at Tyrone County.

"I have requested this urgent meeting with NIO Health Minister Shaun Woodward to ascertain with certainty if he has also moved from his previous fixed position and if he is now committed to the provision of additional services and if he is willing to support these with the necessary resources and finances.

"As well as the 24hr Emergency Department, Sinn Féin is also proposing the development of related services including a Clinical Decision Unit, Acute beds and the return of emergency surgical once these services have bedded down.

"Combined with a profile of other services Sinn Féin is also proposing that the hospital becomes the regional centre for excellence for elective day surgery.

Concluding Mr Doherty said,

"I believe that by securing these services we can build a solid foundation on which to create a positive new beginning for Tyrone County and the community who depend on its health services." ENDS

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