Future of Lagan Valley Hospital can be secured says MP

As the SE Trust holds a public consultation meeting on the future of emergency services at the Lagan Valley Hospital, local MP Jeffrey Donaldson explains why he believes it is vital to ensure 24 hour access at the A&E department and why he is confident that with public support the future of the hospital can be secured.

“As a community, we need to look at these proposals with a long-term perspective and not just in the here and now. The shape of hospital services has changed in recent years as the Health Service responds to the fact that people generally are living longer and therefore the type of care they require is changing. Much of this care can and should be delivered locally but it needs to happen in a more effective and efficient way.

“At the moment if a person has a medical problem, they often visit their local GP who either makes a diagnosis and prescribes treatment or makes a referral to a specialist. Yet, there is so much more that GP’s could do in terms of diagnosis and treatment if they had access to resources such as scanners, therapy support etc.

“In Lisburn we have the largest health centre in Northern Ireland located a short distance from our local hospital, which has many of these facilities, including state of the art scanners and operating theatres. The Trust has talked to the GPs about relocating to a site adjacent to the Lagan Valley hospital where a new, modern health centre with improved parking facilities, could be built alongside an enhanced hospital facility.

“I must confess that initially I was sceptical about such a proposition but as I have talked to healthcare professionals, I have become more convinced that such a model is worthy of support. It would enable the better integration of primary care and hospital services, meaning that a visit to your GP could result in early diagnosis, quicker treatment and faster recovery.

“Such an initiative would help to reduce waiting times for treatment and improve the health and wellbeing of the local population. An integrated healthcare service also means that the hospital would, once again, be able to offer 24/7 cover by incorporating the GP out of hours service with the Emergency Department. The result would be that almost all people requiring treatment at a casualty unit will be treated at their local hospital rather than having to travel to Belfast or Craigavon.

“The Trust has developed a business plan, which it will present to the Department of Health. This proposal would secure major investment for the Lagan Valley hospital and together with a new Health Centre, would result in a significant enhancement of healthcare services available to the local community.

“The model proposed by the Trust would result in the enhancement of medical services on the Lagan Valley site, including an increase in Day Surgery and Endoscopy as well as Screening and Prevention Therapies. There would also be improvements in Ambulatory Care to include Outpatient and Diagnostic Services. Furthermore there is potential to site a single Mental Health Acute Inpatient Service at the Lagan Valley.

“I am absolutely committed to securing the best local healthcare services for the people that I represent and I believe that we need to consider carefully and constructively the proposals that the Trust have brought forward. Change is always difficult and challenging for all of us.

“However, if Lisburn is to become a city fit for the 21st century then we must not be afraid of change but take a more strategic approach that ensures we create local facilities that will better serve this and future generations.

“There is no doubt that some medical conditions are best treated in large acute hospitals with access to specialist skills and clinical facilities. However, this only accounts for a minority of cases. The greater majority of people who need healthcare can and should be treated in local facilities and that is why we need to ensure that what we have in Lagan Valley is capable of offering an integrated, cohesive and fit for purpose health and care model that maximises clinical adjacencies and access to services for the local community.

“We must not miss the opportunity that now exists to achieve this and secure the future of our local hospital.”

* Did you attend the public consultation meeting this week? Share your views on the proposals for the Lagan Valley Hospital by emailing [email protected], log onto www.facebook.com/ulsterstar or contact us via Twitter @LisburnStar.