‘Record number’ using ‘Mid’ - claim

A RECORD number of people are attending the Mid-Ulster Hospital’s Minor Injury Unit as Antrim Area Hospital’s waiting times continue to suffer, according to a local health group.

Last month the Minor Injury Unit (MUI) at the Mid-Ulster Hospital recorded its highest number of attendants to date.

Over 730 people passed through the doors of the 9am to 5pm unit, which replaced the Magherafelt hospital’s emergency department in May 2010.

Pressure group ‘Save the Mid’, who recently submitted details of a patient survey of Mid-Ulster residents to the Health Committee, said it is now time for the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) to begin utilising more acute services back into the Hospital Road site.

It comes after Sean Donaghy confirmed that Ward 2 of the hospital, sensationally shut last June, will be reopened to provide extra bed space for those across the Trust.

Speaking about the latest figures from the NHSCT Performance Report Hugh McCloy, Chair of ‘Save the Mid’ said: “We have for two years challenged the decision to remove acute services from the Mid Ulster Hospital site.

“A&E is not just the problem it is the support services and step down beds required to support A&E that is causing problems.

“We can have the biggest A&E in the country but if the internal capacity at Antrim Hospital is not increased there will still be patients waiting, and with patients who are laying in holding wards not being recorded in waiting times, the opportunity for the NHSCT to manipulate figures will be even easier.

He continued: “Valarie Jackson, head of acute services within the NHSCT has stated 90 per cent of all waits in Antrim A&E are because there are no beds.

“This is compounded by the loss of beds in the Mid-Ulster Hospital for Mid Ulster patients. This cannot be allowed to continue the Health Minister and Health Trust must now come to their senses and stop this dangerous reconfiguration of services that is clinical damaging Mid Ulster residents.

“Mid Ulster area is blighted with poor ambulance response times, now it faces losing community services in local area like Moneymore, Cookstown and Maghera. How much more will Mid-Ulster patients be made suffer before services are restored to Mid Ulster Hospital?”

Mr McCloy represented the group at a recent NHSCT board room meeting where he questioned the board on the future of the Mid-Ulster site. Trust chief Sean Donaghy confirmed that Ward 2 in the main building would reopen to house Thompson House patients and patients across the Trust who require beds.

“This is a step in the right direction,” he added.

“Doubts were in place due to the current plans excluding this move and previously the Trust had stating that the flooring within Ward 2 was a health and safety risk.

“This move will bring inpatients back into the main hospital site, something which it has not had in nearly a year and is a platform to build services around, every step must be taken and supported to return more life saving services to the Mid Ulster hospital post the population plans that were discussed by the NHSCT board in a closed session in the same board meeting.

“With the Mid-Ulster Minor Injury Unit seeing record attendances while at the same time Antirm having the third worst performance in history it shows that even with more people using the Mid Ulster Hospital, Antrim cannot cope.

“Changes must be made and made towards utilising more acute services at the Mid Ulster hospital site.”