Omagh Hospital: Death by a thousand cuts

According to a report in Omagh’s Ulster Herald the Western Health Trust is considering ending 24 hour laboratory services at Omagh hospital. As the report correctly observes this would severely restrict the ability of the hospital to look after acute admissions especially after hours. This move appears to have been due to the Trust’s concerns about safety and also problems regarding compliance with the European Working Time directive. The suggested solution of “point of care” testing equipment is as the newspaper report states completely inadequate for a modern hospital.Yet again, however, the politicians are living in a parallel universe. Omagh councillors met McGimpsey to attempt to increase the number and complexity of cases to be admitted to Omagh. At some point politicians are going to have to be honest and tell people that some hospitals are going to have to loose services. McGimpsey, however, seems to prefer to hide behind bland statements and tries to promise inpatient services, and an urgent care and treatment centre in Omagh; both of which, if they are to admit acutely ill patients will need a functioning laboratory. Avoiding telling the whole truth and avoiding difficult decisions seem, however, to be amongst McGimspey’s specialities (indeed he really should be a top consultant in the field).

I am sure that McGimpsey will wait till the Western Trust is forced to pull certain services, then publicly wash his hands of the problem and allow the Trust to take the blame just as is happening to the South Eastern Trust regarding maternity services in Lagan Valley.

  • Don Quixote

    There may be just a political gaming in this as you suggest Turgon – but I doubt it. Apart from the political correctness that this issue tempts – it too is probably of little relevance. There’s a deeper problem that seems to drive health service decision making – that of geographic ignorance.

    Health services relocated are justified on many grounds (mostly financial – but rarely up front). What you won’t get is an impact analysis that identifies towns and villages adversely affected – and – consequently, you’ll not have measures enacted to ameliorate that impact.

    What you will get is an impact analysis based on flimsy information showing impacts by age, marital status, religion, sex … and of the rest of Section 75 ‘protected groups’. What we don’t seem to get are impact analysis that identifies “Mr/Ms X in area Y will now be a cardiac arrest risk area and so we’ll manage that risk by …”

    The news today of the Ambulance Service falsifying records shows what’s leading health-care decision making and it hasn’t much to do with the delivery of health care.

  • lamh dearg

    While the local politicians fight a doomed attempt to keep unsustainable hospitals open they actually let the professional planners off the hook.

    Omagh cannot sustain a modern hospital. That fact is inescapable.

    The problem isn’t even primarily financial, rather a question of workload, staffing and experience requirements. Doctors can only work so many hours, in a small hospital that means they only deal with a small number of patients, not enough to maintain their expertise. So even if we threw squillions at Omagh and employed as many doctors as would be required to legally staff it those doctors would not be able to maintain their expertise so as to be able to offer the people of Omagh a safe service.

    So close it but ensure that the people of Omagh have access to as good a service as those of Derry or Belfast by investing in an ambulance service that doesn’t have to lie about its response times, in roads that allow ambulances to travel fast and safely and perhaps even (if the other Omagh Hospitals in our wee province are also put out of their misery) investing in an air ambulance service for the province or the north of the whole island.

    That’s what the NI politicians at both Council and Stormont level should be demanding.

    But why break the habits of a lifetime by looking to the future and showing leadership? We never rewarded them with our votes for doing such a thing.

  • kevin

    I am going to hopefully get permission from the health minister pretty soon to introduce such ana ir ambulance provision inot the omagh hospital serving the whole population off N.i