MAGHERAFELT District Council says it remains committed to the retention and improvement of all existing services at the Mid-Ulster Hospital.
In a strongly-worded statement responding to comments from Save the Mid Group spokesperson Hugh McCloy, the Council expressed its dismay and surprise.
“The two main accusations leveled by Mr McCloy at the Council are that it has ‘secretly agreed to… fully downgrade the Mid Ulster Hospital to a Health Centre’ and ‘the Council have given up on the Mid’. Both of these comments are inaccurate and groundless.,” the statement reads.
“A Council cannot make a secret agreement. For a Council agreement to have any standing in law it must be contained in the Council minutes which are of course public documents. No such minute is contained within the Council records as no such approval has been sought.
“In relation to Mr McCloy’s second accusation – that ‘the Council have given up on the Mid’ this again is inaccurate.
“Magherafelt Council has consistently, over a long period of time, argued for the retention of all the services at the Mid and have lobbied government Ministers and the Health Service Committee on numerous occasions to this effect.
“The decision to close the Mid Ulster Hospital Accident & Emergency was approved by the Health Minister in September 2009 after a sixteen week consultation period. During that consultation period many physicians at the Mid Ulster Hospital voiced their concern at the risks involved in continuing to provide a full accident & emergency service without proper medical cover.
“Dr Peter Flanagan, a senior medical director at the Northern Trust, stated ‘The main reasons we came to the decision (to close Accident & Emergency at the Mid Ulster Hospital) is the fact that we have lost a number of key medical staff.
“‘We simply do not have the resources to run four (Antrim, Causeway, Mid Ulster and Whiteabbey) accident & emergency departments and if we tried we could end up with a complete collapse of services which would be even worse’”.
“The Council continues to urge for the provision for a full complement of services, both inpatient and outpatient, at the Mid Ulster Hospital, together with an accident & emergency service which properly serves the needs of the local population. The Council continues to fight for the provision of both an Accident & Emergency and ambulance service at Antrim which is fit for purpose.
“Notwithstanding the above, the Council recognises that there is now a lot of disused space at the Mid Ulster Hospital site. Presently there are 22 types of different services including: mental health and disability; children’s services; acute services; and PCCOPS (primary and community care for older people’s services) which includes over 200 staff at approximately fifteen different sites located as far apart as Moneymore, Ballymena and Antrim.
“The Trust has plans to centralise all of this provision at the Mid Ulster Hospital site. The Council believes that the centralisation of these services at a ‘one-stop-shop’ at the Magherafelt site will improve the access to all of these services for all of the people of the district.”