OMAGH’s new hospital looks set to avoid the axe in the forthcoming round of budgetary cuts within the Western Trust.
Revealed at an ‘extraordinary’ meeting at Trust Headquarters in Derry on Thursday, plans for the Omagh facility were discussed alongside new controversial in-year savings proposals. These draft proposals include reducing the number of locum doctors and agency nurses, paring back the number of domiciliary care and nursing home packages and temporarily reducing daycase elective surgery.
The North’s five trusts have been asked to deliver a total of £70million savings by the Department of Health. Within the Western Trust, these savings amount to £12.5million.
Yet despite the likes of Cancer Care NI saying the “cuts will impact directly on patient care and lead to longer waiting times,” Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex has not been ear-marked for any direct diminishment of services. In fact, the services at the facility even stand to be enhanced.
“At this our intention is to consolidate our daycase procedures (in Omagh),” Trust chief executive, Dr Anne Kilgallen explained.
She continued, “Our intention is to increase throughput for daycase.”
Daycase procedures are surgical procedures that can be performed in a single day like operations for hernia and varicose veins. Suggesting existing services in Omagh would remain unaffected, Dr Kilgallen went on, “We need to talk to staff about the detail…we do know that day procedures in Omagh offers an option for us to provide more services rather than less.”
However other hospitals and facilities have not fared as well as Omagh. Although the finer details have yet to be revealed, daycare services in Gortin and Dromore could also be affected.
As well, neonatal provision at South West Area Hospital in Enniskillen could be remodelled into a “transitional care based service”. Despite asking the Western Trust what exactly this meant, no explanation was forthcoming.
Unions, politicians and charities have all since criticised the Department’s requirement that all of the North’s trusts embark on this cost-saving exercise.
Roisin Foster, chief executive of Cancer Focus Northern Ireland described the cuts as “worrying”.
She said, “There is no justification for them. These cuts will impact directly on patient care and lead to longer waiting times. Targets that were set have not been met and we already have the worse waiting times in the UK. We also badly need a new cancer strategy. In the meantime, it is the vulnerable who suffer most. This inactivity on our pressing health matters has been a continuing problem for long enough. We need our politicians back in Stormont to give proper leadership and to sort this out.”
The Western Trust has emphasised that any new proposals form part of an ongoing public consultation exercise.