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.