On the 1st July 2010 Valerie Jackson was part of a panel that gave evidence to Health Committee regarding the crisis closure of Mid Ulster A&E.
COMMITTEE FOR HEALTH, SOCIAL SERVICES AND PUBLIC SAFETY OFFICIAL REPORT
(Hansard) Acute Services at Mid-Ulster Hospital and Whiteabbey Hospital 1 July 2010 Members present for all or part of the proceedings:
Mr Jim Wells (Chairperson)
Mrs Michelle O’Neill (Deputy Chairperson)
Dr Kieran Deeny
Mr Alex Easton
Mr Tommy Gallagher
Mr Sam Gardiner
Mr John McCallister
Mrs Claire McGill
Witnesses: Mr Michael Bloomfield ) Health and Social Care Board
Mr David Galloway ) Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety Dr Olivia Dornan ) Northern Health and Social Care Trust
Dr Peter Flanagan ) Ms Valerie Jackson )
Mr Brian McNeill ) Northern Ireland Ambulance Service
During this meeting Valerie Jackson stated several instances that Save The Mid want reviewed;
"Ms Valerie Jackson (Northern Health and Social Care Trust): I will begin by setting the scene in relation to the documents that support the changes in the Northern Trust area. The Committee will recall that the document ‘Developing Better Services’ (DBS), which was issued in 2002, signalled changes to service delivery at the Whiteabbey and Mid-Ulster sites. During 2003 and 2004, concerns were raised about the profile of services at those sites, which were, at that time, part of the United Hospitals Trust.
As a result of the concerns that were raised, the trust commissioned Deloitte and Touche to carry out a risk assessment in 2005. That assessment identified a number of risks in sustaining services. At that time, changes were made to maternity services at the Mid-Ulster Hospital and to A&E services at the Mid-Ulster and Whiteabbey sites. Bypass protocols were put in place for major trauma cases for those sites, ill children were diverted to other sites and the opening hours of the A&E departments were changed. From that point, the service was already operating in a limited way.
In early 2009, in response to the comprehensive spending review (CSR), the Northern Trust released a document called ‘The Reconfiguration of Acute Hospital Services’. That document was subject to a full equality impact assessment and to consultation over the three-month period from January to March 2009.
The trust made recommendations, which were forwarded to the Minister in March 2009 and approved in September 2009. Those recommendations stated that, within the comprehensive spending review period, the trust should make changes to acute, inpatient and A&E services at Whiteabbey. At that stage, it was felt that the full anticipated changes to the Mid-Ulster Hospital could not be completed in advance of the completion of the new ward block at the Antrim Area Hospital site. In the interim, the trusts were to make significant efforts to sustain services at both sites. However, until the additional capacity was in place at Antrim, those services were subject to any clinical risk or patient-safety issues that emerged during the intervening period.
In summer 2009, serious concerns emerged about the maintenance of acute surgical services because of problems with maintaining junior doctor rotas and with the recruitment of consultants on those sites. That resulted in changes to surgical services at Whiteabbey in October 2009 and at Mid-Ulster in November 2009. Following those changes, clinical staff raised further concerns in December 2009 about the safety of services provided at the local A&E departments as a result of the surgery service in the autumn. Additionally, concerns emerged about cardiology as a result of changes in practice in relation to the treatment and care of patients with acute myocardial infarction.
In response to those concerns, the trust discussed the issues with the Health and Social Care Board, and, with its support, put in place immediate contingency arrangements to support the delivery of a safe service on those sites. However, at the same time, the trust considered enhanced contingency arrangements that may have proved necessary. During January, February, March and April 2010, the situation was closely monitored, and, by early April, the trust realised that the position was unsustainable for a number of reasons. At that time, further discussions took place between the trust, the Health and Social Care Board and the Department. The trust advised that the only viable solution was to accelerate the changes that had been proposed in the original CSR proposals.
On 26 April 2010, the chief executive of the Northern Trust, Mr Colm Donaghy, the chief executive of the Health and Social Care Board, John Compton, and Dr Olivia Dornan met the Minister to present the concerns, explain the difficulties in sustaining the current level of acute services and outline the immediate changes that were required in A&E departments on both sites. They emphasised that decisions and action were urgently required. An announcement about the changes was made on 12 May 2010, and, during the following week, a number of staff, media and public announcements took place, and information was provided to a range of stakeholders.
In response to the trust’s situation, we made a number of changes at the Antrim Area Hospital site to find and create additional capacity. We redesigned our treatment areas at the Antrim Area Hospital site and created a 10-bedded clinical decision unit in the A&E department at the site. We opened 11 additional medical inpatient beds at the site, and, to manage that additional capacity, we redeployed 44 staff from both of the affected sites. As a result, the trust has noticed significant improvements in performance, particularly of the A&E service at the Antrim Area Hospital against the four-hour and 12-hour targets that the Department has set.
As for the future, the remaining acute medical beds from Whiteabbey and the high-dependency beds from the Mid-Ulster site will transfer by the end of July 2010. Following that, the remaining medical beds from the Mid-Ulster site will move during 2011.
On behalf of the trust, I want to say that the Northern Trust is committed to providing vibrant local services from the Mid-Ulster and Whiteabbey sites. We will continue to provide services such as day surgery, diagnostics, inpatient and outpatient rehabilitation services, and day-case services. As members know, the Whiteabbey site has recently obtained accreditation for bowel cancer screening. That will bring a significant volume of work to that site. We are in negotiations with the board to bring a cataract service to the Mid-Ulster site, along with providing a renal fistula service from that site.
In summary, the trust considered the changes carefully as they emerged, and it has, at all times, taken account of patient safety and the quality of service that we provide for our local population. Over the past number of years, that has been the overriding concern of the trust throughout the changes. We want to work closely with local communities, and we want to ensure that we use the facilities that we have at the Mid-Ulster Hospital and Whiteabbey Hospital to full effect and efficiency."
Several parts of this statement have already been proven to be lies yet this was accepted as evidence under Hansard to the committee, Save The Mid have requested that they be allowed to give a 10 minute evidence session to the Health Committee to ensure that the same lies that removed Mid Ulster Hospital of acute services are not used to completely remove it through the Transforming Your Care Review.