The Southern Trust has recommended the department moves the service permanently to Craigavon Area Hospital after it was temporarily removed from Daisy Hill in February 2022.
Newry, Mourne and Down District Council (NMDDC) elected reps across the political divide, approved an emergency motion on Monday night (October 2) brought forward by SDLP councillor, Michael Savage.
He said: “The decision by the Southern Trust at Thursday’s (Sept 28) board meeting to permanently remove emergency general surgery from our acute Daisy Hill hospital has been taken against the backdrop of a democratic deficit on two fronts.
“Firstly it is a decision that flies in the face of the views of over 11,000 service users and patients across this district who overwhelmingly voiced their opposition to the removal of emergency general surgery from Daisy Hill, 94% of respondents voiced their opposition to this move yet their views and the views of upwards of 10,000 people taking to the streets of Newry have been ignored.
“Secondly it is a decision that has been taken at a time when we have no Northern Ireland Executive and no local Health Minister in place to make such seismic and impactful decisions.
“Such a decision taken in this manner makes a mockery of the consultation process, which leaves citizens of this district feeling that there appears to be no such thing as a ‘temporary’ removal of a service from Daisy Hill.
“Again the trust are putting the cart before the horse and ramming through a permanent major cut to services at Daisy Hill before a full picture of the future plans for the hospital have been developed.
“Surely the public would find it easier to accept this decision if it was part of a plan for the long-term future of our hospital, a plan that consolidates existing and new services at Daisy Hill long-term and gives patients and staff certainty.”
The Newry rep added: “Councillors recognise the need to transform our services for better health outcomes, but I believe decisions like this one need to be made as part of the process, which clearly states Daisy Hill’s valued role in that service delivery and transformation. And that is why I believe that this decision needs to be paused by the permanent secretary until a long term plan is developed for Daisy Hill.
“I believe that plan can be delivered as early as January 2024 so I think it makes sense to hold off on this decision until the public see how it fits in to the overall picture of transformation of our health service and the envisaged role Daisy Hill plays in that transformation.
“People need to know how this decision potentially fits with the long-term future of our local hospital.
“A fate accompli approach only feeds anxiety among patients and staff and that is why I ask members to support this motion and ensure that we see what the long-term plan is for Daisy Hill before decisions like the permanent removal of emergency general surgery are taken.”