FEARS about the future of South Tyrone Hospital’s Loane House have been raised after health chiefs announced a public consultation regarding the delivery of care.
The South Tyrone Hospital Community Forum has vowed to send out a clear message that no beds should be removed from Loane House.
The forum fears that elderly, confused patients from Dungannon could be moved to Newry, placing an extra burden on patients and their families.
It has arranged an emergency meeting with the Trust in September to allow members, councillors and MLAs to express their opposition.
“The South Tyrone Hospital catchment is the most geographically isolated from the two acute hospitals and we would not wish to see elderly, confused patients isolated from their families for longer than necessary”, said Forum Chair Ethne McCord.
“We would be against placing an extra burden on families regarding visiting at a time of great distress.”
SDLP Councillor Jim Cavanagh said that although the future of the beds was only up for consultation, the situation was ‘ominous’.
“I would hate to see a situation where such a facility would be removed, and I fear that the motivation would be financial”, he warned. “It would very much inconvenience local people to have to travel to Newry to visit their relatives and loved one.”
Angela McVeigh, Director of Older People and Primary Care for the Southern Trust said: “In responding to the Minister’s decisions in relation to ‘Transforming Your Care’ (TYC) June 2011, the Southern Trust has published a 5 year Strategic Plan, “Changing for a Better Future.”
“The Trust is currently holding ‘pre-consultation’ meetings with MLAs and local Councils which included Dungannon and South Tyrone Council on 24 June, to share our strategy and set out the Trust’s key areas for change.
“Changing for a Better Future highlights planned changes in new community and primary care services with an emphasis on older people being supported in their own home which should lead to a reduction in the number of inpatient beds in acute, non-acute and dementia assessment hospitals.
“The Trust is currently exploring options for improved and more affordable delivery of care.
“The Trust can confirm that no decision has been taken regarding Loane House, however, when proposed options and changes for service delivery are complete, this will be subject to a full and meaningful public consultation before any final decisions are taken.”