The socialist republican party, éirígí, has added its voice to calls for people in Newry and surrounding areas to come together and support the campaign to save the Stroke Unit at Daisy Hill Hospital. The party’s call comes following the announcement by the Southern Trust that the vital service is to be moved to Craigavon, a move supported by Stormont's Health Minister Jim Wells.
Commenting on the issue, éirígí’s local representative in Newry, Stephen Murney, voiced the party’s support for the campaign and added, “This is a much needed facility that provides vital care and support to stroke victims and their families. The removal of vital services such as this unit will have an adverse effect on those who need it most.
“It is clear that the Southern Health and Social Trust has totally failed to take into account the views expressed by trades unions, health service staff and the wider public on this issue.
“Centralising services at Craigavon Area Hospital is clearly not a viable solution. Over the past decade, various services from other hospitals within the Southern Trust area have been transferred to Craigavon with the resultant added pressures which the transfer of those various services have caused at Craigavon hospital. One has only to speak to nursing and other health staff at Craigavon for confirmation of the unacceptable pressures which staff are continually faced with on an ongoing basis.”
Murney went on to say, "It is also an established fact that over 70% of stroke patients are over the age of 65. Many of their spouses and family members are likely to be of similar age, and are equally likely to have health and personal mobility problems. Little consideration appears to have been given to the impact which moving the stroke unit from Newry to Craigavon will have upon that particular demographic who will be faced with round trips of 60 miles and more to visit their partners or relatives in Craigavon. Many of those elderly people seeking to visit their spouse or relative in Craigavon may not have access to car, or may themselves be in poor health.
“Given that Daisy Hill stroke unit has actually been demonstrated to be achieving slightly better outcomes than Craigavon, it is clear that this decision is not based on principles of best medical practice but is the latest outworking of year after year of public expenditure cuts culminating in Stormont’s latest austerity budget which will impact negatively upon the most vulnerable in our society.
“The Stormont Administration has committed itself to implementing Thatcher-like right-wing policies rather than creating an efficient health service available and accessible to all.”
Murney concluded “The impeding removal of the award winning Stroke Unit in Daisy Hill must be stopped in its tracks. The campaign which has been launched to save the Daisy Hill Stroke Unit is to be welcomed and it is important that people in Newry and the surrounding areas throw their full support behind that campaign.”
“It is also important for people in the Newry area to also fully support next Friday’s day of action organised by the trade union movement to protest against Stormont’s cuts to health, education and other public services.”