Hospital meeting a ‘farce’ Thursday, 6 December 2012
The 'Transforming Your Care' meeting on the Causeway's future – described as "an absolute farce."
A HOSPITAL pressure group has described a meeting with health chiefs on the Causeway's future as "an absolute farce." The comments from Cliodhna Rae, chair of the Causeway Hospital Campaign group, came at the conclusion of a public forum on 'Transforming Your Care' review of healthcare provision across Northern Ireland.
The Causeway Hospital was inevitably top of the agenda at the consultation event in the Sandel Centre last Tuesday.
Included on the panel were Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Board, John Compton, Chief Executive of the NHSCT, Sean Donaghy and Chairman of the Northern Local Commissioning Group, Dr Brian Hunter.
The meeting came hot on the heels of the Patient and Client Council Roadshow at the end of October and unfolded in almost exactly the same way. Indeed, the same issues around the hospital were raised once again and the same confusion seemingly reigned amongst those present.
Despite the scope of the TYC consultation, summarised by John Compton on the night, the future of Causeway dominated debate, despite myriad questions submitted on other aspects of the proposed healthcare changes. The assembled crowd also did not take well to the fact the first hour of the two-hour event was tied up with a presentation and not questions and answers.
“This is an absolute farce of a meeting," Cliodhna Rae, chair of the Causeway Hospital Campaign group told the panel as the evening was tied up.
Chair of Save the Mid, Hugh McCloy, echoed her sentiment, adding that after two years of public meetings, the community continued to be "effectively silenced from asking any questions".
Queries focused on what effect the public consultation would have on the outcome of TYC, with questions also asked about allocation of resources and how savings were being made. The potential link-up with the Western Trust was also highlighted, as well as the future of residential homes and access to GP services.
A number of comparisons between Antrim Area Hospital and Causeway Hospital were also made, although Sean Donaghy said that to "characterise Antrim as a bogey man is wrong". He said that Antrim surgeons and physicians "would quail at the moment" if anything was to happen to Causeway and that comparison between the two hospitals was unfair.
When challenged by Causeway Hospital Campaign about the staggering difference in staff numbers at both facilities, Mr Donaghy said this was because Antrim dealt with 73,000 patients per annum and Causeway with 44,000. "We rely on both hospitals to co-operate and support one another," he said. "We'd rather focus on the positives."
Some controversy arose regarding the allocation of a new MRI scanner, which Causeway Hospital Campaign said Causeway Hospital had missed out on.
A recently retired physician from Causeway, Dr Gilmore, added that there had been "little investment in Causeway," with fewer staff and no dialysis unit on site. Sean Donaghy responded by saying they had to "wait for commissioners" to decide "what's the right pattern of service in Northern Ireland and is Causeway part of that."