SDLP Newry & Armagh MLA Justin McNulty has called on Health Minister Robin Swann to clarify the situation around emergency general surgery at Daisy Hill Hospital.
It follows reports that emergency surgery could be permanently moved from the hospital.
Minister Swann has announced Daisy Hill will become an Elective Overnight Stay Centre.
Mr McNulty said:
“Whilst the creation of an Elective Surgery Hub at Daisy Hill is an important development, we need to see detail to ensure it secures the long-term sustainability of the hospital. I want to be clear that this does not make up for the loss of emergency general surgery provision, which has rightly angered local people and sparked a grassroots campaign to retain these vital services for communities here.
“I am fully supportive of the plans to expand elective surgery and will do everything I can to make them a success alongside other efforts for long-term health service reform, but this doesn’t change the fact that we need to see emergency surgery returned to Daisy Hill and a proper staffing cohort based here to provide first class healthcare to people living in the wider area and to realise the hospital's potential as a cross-border hub.”
SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath also called on Minister Swann to address the state of emergency general surgery across the North.
It follows similar concerns around emergency surgery at the South West Acute Hospital (SWAH).
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:
“Various reports around the future of emergency surgery at both the SWAH and Daisy Hill Hospital have justifiably caused concern for the wider community in these areas who face losing vital services and having to travel further and further for emergency treatment.
“Given media speculation I am urging the Health Minister Robin Swann to make a statement on the state of emergency general surgery in the North and outline the reasons the situation has reached this critical stage.
“The SDLP is supportive of health service reform and understands that difficult decisions will have to be taken to create a better healthcare system for everyone in the North, but the removal of emergency surgery from Daisy Hill was not part of this reform and was due to the collapse of the health service in the area due to the inability to attract the necessary staff. We are now seeing a similar situation play out at the SWAH and the Minister needs to outline his plans for the future at both hospitals and put people’s minds at rest.”