Geographical Discrimination Within Health Service

With the Stormont Assembly preparing to resume next week after a summer recess, Dr Kieran Deeny has outlined his immediate intention to address the “healthcare geographical discrimination” in the North.

Speaking this week the West Tyrone Assembly member stressed his belief that there remains one law for Omagh, and Tyrone in general, and another for the rest of North declaring, “Tyrone people are treated as second class patients as far as health care provision is concerned.”

According to the leader of the Independent Health Coalition there are many examples of this, citing a number of services such as A&E, maternity, ENT and the proposed new Omagh Area Hospital as clear examples of the discrimination against healthcare provision in Tyrone.

The main duties of Stormont’s Health Committee are to scrutinise and monitor the Health Minister and his Department and to hold them to account. “The blatant inequalities in healthcare provision occurring within Northern Ireland cannot and will not be allowed to continue,” said Dr Deeny.

“As soon as we resume in September, we, in the Health Committee, must ask the Health Minister to explain and justify why his Department practices this geographical discrimination when it comes to health care provision.

“The sooner we bring to an end this health care inequality, the sooner we can get down to the job of making sure that all of us in Northern Ireland receive the standard of health care provision that every citizen in a developed country in the year 2007 should not only expect, but also receive.”

Dr Deeny gave some examples of this, “Downpatrick (my native town) quite rightly and deservedly has been promised a £65 million new Hospital with Consultant led 24 hour A&E and both medical and coronary care in patient facilities and yet, even after numerous requests by myself as Chairman of the Omagh and District GP Association and on behalf of our patients, we are refused these very same A&E, in patient medical and coronary care services in Omagh’s so-called ‘New Hospital’.

“The Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT), continue to refuse to meet the essential medical needs of our patients but of course they persist in their attempts to ‘con’ patients and the general Northern Ireland public by planning to spend, but really waste, £150 million of public money on this new health facility in Omagh.

“What is planned for Omagh is not a Hospital as it will have no life saving services within it. In more ways than one in that it will simply be a convalescent, out-patients and diagnostic centre but will not provide the services that we front-line doctors need to save the lives of our patients.

“As I have also stated before, and on behalf of the GPs in this area, we do not want 150 pence spent on this health facility never mind £150 million and this will remain the attitude of the health professionals in this area until such time as plans are made for proper hospital emergency services that we need to saves our patients’ lives.

“Yet another example of the double standards practised by our DHSSPS is that they have decided that the paediatric age in our area goes up to 16 years and yet everywhere else in the NHS it stops at 14 and so we have the senior individual in the NIAS deciding, or making a law, only for this part of Northern Ireland that ambulance staff are forbidden to take any patients under 16 to Tyrone County Hospital in an emergency (e.g. ‘fitting children’) even though if parents or teachers bring our children to our Hospital they will be seen, assessed, treated / stabilised and transferred to a Hospital with paediatric 24/7 if that is what is clinically indicated.

“Even though we in Tyrone live in the largest of the 6 counties, we are the only county where there are no maternity facilities to allow for the safe deliveries or birth of our children and our babies are regularly being born on their parent kitchen/bathroom floors or on the roadside.

“Children in ‘status epilepticus’ (or prolonged life threatening seizures) now being driven in ambulances past our Hospital in Omagh and being allowed to remain in such a life threatening state for up to an hour and more before receiving the appropriate treatment.”