Newry Chamber were pleased to join representatives from political parties, community groups and the medical profession on Friday 1st July 2022, to launch the Daisy Hill Development Pathway.
These representatives plus a member of the Bengoa Expert Panel, representatives from Daisy Hill Pathfinder Group, Newry Chamber, Newry and Mourne Enterprise Agency all form part of the new Daisy Hill Future Group who set out their vision for Daisy Hill Hospital at a press conference at the Thinklab, Newry.
The vision is that ‘Daisy Hill will be a major acute healthcare hub providing safe accessible services for citizens in the east border region.’
The new group spelt out six aims:
- To secure a reliable ambulance service for the Greater Newry Area
- An electrical supply upgrade at the hospital with the provision of an MRI suite
- Staff contracts need to be Trust wide and not site specific
- Newry, Mourne and Down District Council need to transfer the present Council Offices at Monaghan Row to the Trust to enable the hospital’s development and expansion
- Elective surgery hub status confirmed for Daisy Hill
- Specialist workforce need to be recruited
Emma Mullen, Past-President of Newry Chamber, represented the voice of the business community of the Greater Newry and Mourne Region referring to the group as a “reflection of the expanded collaboration that exists in this area and the united and common vision we all hold for the future of Daisy Hill Hospital.”
Emma Mullen, Newry Chamber Representative said:
“For the business community, Daisy Hill is a tremendous asset for our region, in the attraction of talent, for future inward investment and indigenous business growth and for the health, safety and wellbeing of our workers in this area, where 51% of our companies are based in manufacturing, production and agriculture where the highest risks present.”
She added, “In an area that celebrates 98% employment with 1200 current vacancies, it is important for stakeholders across the entire community to sell Newry as an attractive place to live, work and do business. Businesses do this in their efforts to attract the talent and skills they need in their businesses currently and in the future.”
“The returner market is important to many of our businesses here and you only have to look at the employee brochures that are sent across the world that celebrates our region. It is something to be proud of. Our quality of life, our landscape, our education providers and within that, a robust and secure healthcare provision. These are the important factors new employees look for in moving to our region and Daisy hill is an important asset that we must protect and enhance for the Newry City of the future.”
Emma raised the importance of travel times and distances that exist across the hinterland of Newry and the wide geographical area that Daisy Hill supports adding, “Life and death situations are important to everyone in our community. This plan gives consideration to the realistic travel time challenges for many in our community, the importance of the provision of robust emergency attention and as importantly, the provision of dedicated emergency transport and ambulance provision for our citizens to receive the specialised medical attention they need, as quickly as possible.”
“We are fully supportive of this plan and the need for everyone in our community to avoid situations where life and death situations of the people of Newry and Mourne are not scenarios that we should ever have to encounter at the roadside.”
Newry Chamber representatives have been part of the Daisy Hill pathfinder group since its inception, supporting Daisy Hill in advocating and attracting specialised resources needed and in the defence of protecting the services it provides our community.
Emma concluded, “Newry Chamber are grateful for the tireless work of our healthcare providers within the Southern Trust and the care they provide for everyone in our community. We are pleased to support the launch of this innovative and bold plan today. It is a reflection of the opinions of everyone in our community, supported by medical expertise. This is a proactive plan, but more importantly, it is deliverable.”
Julie Gibbons, President of Newry Chamber said:
“It is incumbent on the Department of Health and the Southern Trust to consider and review the plan that has been presented here by the Daisy Hill Development Pathway. A positive and deliverable plan for the future of Daisy Hill Hospital has been well thought out by a broad range of stakeholders who are united in their vision of a secure and world class healthcare facility in this highly populated region. This is not just a nice-to-have, this is essential for the citizens of this area and the future growth and potential of the wider regional economy. It is now time for commitment and action from our decision-makers.”
Daisy Hill Future Group, Chair, Conor Patterson explained the background to the group and pointed out that this area makes a disproportionately positive contribution to the Northern Ireland economy.
Conor Patterson, Chair of Daisy Hill Future Group said:
“Newry Urban Area alone notwithstanding the size of the hinterland which we’ve talked about, represents about 2.5% of the population of Northern Ireland and this Newry urban area contributes 10% to the private sector economy in Northern Ireland. We’re not saying we want 10% necessarily of the budget which would be £2.1bn for Newry. What we are saying is, it should be understood in Belfast the extent to which per capita, arguably we provide three times the contribution to the Northern Ireland economy than other areas of Northern Ireland do.”
Conor continued, “Forty percent of the ED caseload in the Southern Trust is handled by Daisy Hill Hospital. Every citizen in Northern Ireland has a right to the same expectation of safe accessible, acute healthcare and a key principle underpinning the delivery of services in Northern Ireland is what’s called Section 75. It underpins the equality provisions in the Good Friday Agreement. Temporarily moving services to avoid a section 75 audit is not acceptable, it’s the principle of section 75 counts not the practice. So the principle should be, every citizen has a right to the same provision of service in this jurisdiction, because we know there are intra regional disparities, not just in income, but also in access to services and in health outcomes.”
“A male for example, living in parts of North Down will live nine years longer than a male living in west Newry. That’s a reality, that’s a big metric. And all of this relates to the future access of people disadvantaged currently within the health service, arguably if this is about ‘the greater good’ and we are lectured about the greater good, arguably the intervention should be to address those health service disparities not to reinforce the pre existing advantage that certain citizens in this jurisdiction have over others.”
Conor explained in detail the aims of the group, “Our first priority is to secure a reliable ambulance service for the Greater Newry Area. Everything else that can happen is within the restructuring, which we acknowledge is necessary to bring 21st century medical opportunity to citizens in this community. All of that is predicated on the availability of a reliable ambulance service to citizens in this community.”