Sunday, July 21, 2024
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    THE organisers of this weekend’s rally against reducing services at Daisy Hill Hospital have called for as many people as possible to attend.

    The SOS Daisy Hill Committee will host the event in Newry on Sunday, beginning at 2pm at the city’s Marcus Square, ahead of a march to the nearby hospital.

    Committee chairman Francis Gallagher said that a meeting with Department of Health permanent secretary Peter May last week had been “inconclusive”, and, without concrete proposals, had not halted the forthcoming rally. “Promises were made from the department to halt the meltdown that has been taking place at Daisy Hill, but we will not be satisfied until we see action on the ground,” he stated. “All life-saving services taken away need to be reinstated, and the hospital needs to be enhanced further. “We were told by the department that if a member of the public takes a stroke and calls an ambulance, it will be on divert to Craigavon for the patient to get initial investigation and treatment. “But if a stroke patient presents at Daisy Hill Hospital in a car, diagnosis and treatment will be given there. “This is an unbelievable situation because time is critical in the treatment of a stroke, so a stroke patient in an ambulance on divert to Craigavon Hospital could have a worse medical outcome than the patient arriving at Daisy Hill? “Full stroke services need returned to Daisy Hill immediately.”

    Mr Gallagher confirmed that the committee delegation had asked department officials if their vision for Daisy Hill included it being “a full local acute hospital”. “We were not satisfied with the answer we got,” he continued. “I would therefore pose the question to the public: has an agreement been made at a senior political and departmental level to downgrade Daisy Hill? “Is the current crisis at Daisy Hill part of a plan to undermine our hospital, a plan that did not anticipate such fierce resistance from local people? “Has a deal been done over the heads of the public to take away our life-saving services?”

    The committee chairman concluded that he could “say with the utmost confidence that we will try our best to get answers to these questions”. “But we need you, the public, to show your power by attending the rally on Sunday and send a defiant message to those trying to take away our life-saving services that we deserve equality in access to healthcare,” he said.

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