Anger at early Mid-Ulster Ward closure
Wednesday, 25 May 2011
A WARD that cared for cancer patients, stroke victims and the elderly was wiped out before its time by a phone call, it has been criticised.
Health Chiefs who ordered the early closure of Ward Three at the Mid-Ulster Hospital have been condemned for hiding their decision from staff and members of the public.
The Northern Health and Social Care Trust unexpectedly padlocked the doors to Ward Three last Tuesday, which was not due for closure until today (May 25).
Staff were only informed of the decision that morning when they received phone calls from Trust headquarters telling them not to come into work.
Nurses in Ward Three, who thought they had up to three weeks before being redeployed, were left in limbo and distress at the premature closure having to make arrangements for short term childcare.
At last minute notice, staff were told to immediately remove up to 10 patients from Ward Three to Ward Two, without families of patients being informed. cancer patients, stroke patients and the elderly.
According to Campaign Group Save the Mid, the decision to close early was made to prevent any objections being raised.
“What did the Trust have to hide when they went in by stealth to remove the ward as quickly as possible without public knowledge. Do these people forget that it is we as potential patients and Tax payers who pay their ridiculous wages," the group criticised.
“Why has the Assembly stood back and allowed this to happen when everyone knows the problems that have occurred since Mid-Ulster Hospital has been maliciously run down.
“Had the previous Assembly done nothing we would still have a hospital located in Mid-Ulster, instead the Assembly done worse than nothing - they worked against residents in Mid-Ulster and removed it."
The Courier first revealed last month that two of the hospital's three wards were due to close. Staff had expressed concerns about job losses when the services moved to the Antrim and Causeway hospital sites, but this latest move is said to have enraged nurses, doctors, auxiliary and cleaning staff.
It is almost one year since A&E services were removed from Mid-Ulster and it is understood Ward Two, with approximately 43 beds, is due to close by June 8. This will leave just one ward at the Mid-Ulster site to deal with inpatient, outpatient and paediatric care as well as minor injuries.
A spokesperson for the trust said: "The Trust stopped admitting patients on May 9. The numbers of patients reduced more quickly than expected and this morning (Tuesday) we made the decision to amalgamate two wards."
Local politicians, Ian McCrea (SDLP), Patsy McGlone (SDLP) and Sandra Overend (UUP).
Meanwhile Deputy First Minister, Martin McGuinness MP, MLA (Mid-Ulster) has welcomed Health Minister, Edwin Poots criticism of the decision by his predecessor, Michael McGimpsey to close the Mid-Ulster Hospital A&E Department.
McGuinness said: "I welcome the comments by the health Minister reflecting my own longstanding criticism of Michael McGimpsey's ill-informed decision to close the A&E Department of the Mid-Ulster Hospital.
"Michael McGimpsey closed this facility claiming that the Antrim Area Hospital could cope with the increased numbers from Mid-Ulster. This clearly was not the case and time has proven that not only did Antrim not have the capacity but that it was already overstretched with patients waiting on trolleys in corridors for attention.
"I hope that Edwin Poots will re-evaluate A&E provision throughout the Health Service and ensure that all areas of the North have proper access to A&E services."