Mid Ulster and Whiteabbey A+E to close

The first post I ever did on slugger was on the number of hospitals in Northern Ireland. The latest news regarding the closure of the Mid Ulster’s A+E department along with Whiteabbey’s A+E and in patient cardiology are part of the gradual process of downgrading the smaller hospitals. This is seen as medically necessary as in the era of increasing medical specialisation it is no longer possible to have safe services in small hospitals without all the necessary specialities. Simply put so much more can now be done for people that doctors, nurses and others cannot be sufficiently competent at the whole range of treatments, procedures etc. It is not possible to have all the necessary specialities in a small hospital partly due to cost constraints but possibly more importantly because the specialist doctors, nurses, professions allied to medicine etc. would not get enough throughput of patients requiring their own specialist skills to maintain those skills. Hence, even if it were possible to provide all specialities in a small hospital those very specialities and specialists would rapidly become de skilled.

The simple fact is that apart from the “Gold Six” of the Royal, City, Ulster, Craigavon, Antrim and Altnagelvin, none of the other hospitals are completely safe in the longer term. Indeed many suspect the Belfast City Hospital’s A+E department will eventually be downgraded. The simple reality is that changes in hospital provision have gone on for years and rationalisation is long overdue. However, the fashion in which this has been done with the hospitals given two weeks to close and reorganise is scarcely believable. This will undoubtedly cause considerable problems especially in this case at Antrim Area Hospital. Clearly a longer run in time to this decision would have been more appropriate and had Antrim been provided with additional bed spaces prior to the closure of the Mid Ulster and Whiteabbey it would have been much more satisfactory.

The overall long term decision was actually made clear a number of years ago and of course local politicians all complained bitterly about it. In reality it is most unlikely that local politicians would have ever been willing to accept the gradual phased closure of the local hospitals even had it been done only when the larger hospital was prepared. Politicians of all parties find it much easier to pretend that every hospital and every service should be kept open no matter what and then when a decision is forced by external circumstances complain loudly about it. This decision looks hasty and inadequately prepared: however, when would local politicians ever have supported the closure or downgrading of a local hospital or service?

  • Well said Turgon.

    Add to your list our inability to attract the best to the back of beyond never mind the golden six.

    Another one for paterson to look at and no doubt he will. Nothing will happen however until McGimpsey leaves the bridge.

  • fitzjameshorse1745

    There are drastic Health Service cuts in the pipeline especially in regard to Childrens Services. What beggars belief is the casual announcement one week AFTER a General Election. The voters around Antrim might have liked to have been informed LAST week.
    Was the delay designed to “help” a candidate in the constituency?

  • Lionel Hutz

    As I understand specialised health, the labour number crunchers have a system whereby if a doctor is not doing a procedure x times a year, the provision for that service is taken away. This occurs within the golden six. There is a desire from the civil services to have most procedures centralised to Belfast.

    This disgusting trend is what is leading to a scaling down if acute services in so many hospitals. These become unnattractive yo work in so a&e units and the like are placed under pressure. Where do people in Fermanagh and Tyrone go for hospitals.

    Sinn Fein have been leading all four constituencies in that area for a decade. Surely they could work together to do something about it.

  • bigchiefally

    I can see why anyone living near a smaller regional hospital that is at risk of closure or downgrading is going to be annoyed but as Turgon alluded to costs and specialisation of medicine mean more centralisation is inevitable.

    Is it not fair to suggest that the choice between living in the country or city comes down to larger and cheaper housing, less crime and noise in the country as opposed to better access to services, schools, entertainment, public transport and jobs in a city? There has to be at least a basic level of health care within a sensible distance for everyone but I think it is unaffordable and implausible to have everyone in NI a short commute to specialised care.

  • jtwo

    If I was knocked down at the gates of Whiteabbey A&E I would pay good money to be taken to a proper trauma centre at Antrim or preferrably the Royal.

    It was also abundantly clear from the RQIA report on c diff in the Northern Trust that trying to organise services across a string of small, ageing hospitals was extremely difficult if not positively dangerous.

    Though in saying that this latest move is a botch as it is pretty clear that Antrim’s must be close to maximum physical capacity already – anyone who has been in Antrim knows that the general wards are hideously cramped.

  • daisy

    Having had to avail of Antrim’s services twice in the last couple of years (once for maternity, the other for A&E) I can unfortunately confirm that wards were hideously cramped, nursing staff inadequately resourced (some of them could do with retraining too) and general hygiene appalling.

    Perhaps if Mr McGimpsey was to make an unannounced visit there some evening he could see for himself that the place is in need of serious investment. Unlikely to happen though.

  • joeCanuck

    The way we deal with that in Ontario, admittedly a much bigger area, is to set standards for access, both to a primary care centre where conditions can be stabilised and then for transfer to a major trauma centre. Currently, I believe, it is 40 minutes and two hours by road respectively. For urgent cases such as a major road accident, a helicopter is used to shorten the time to a major trauma centre, directly from the accident site if necessary..

  • Kevin McIlhennon

    It’s a shame that they are closing down but I had the ‘pleasure’ of experiencing the supposed professionalism in Whiteabbey a few years ago. I broke my arm and, since it is my local A&E, I went to Whiteabbey to have an X-ray. The junior doctor looked at the film and said that it wasn’t broken but seemed bruised. I then continued to use it, albeit in a restriced way, until the pain wouldn’t go away. I went back 3 days later and a consultant in emergency medicine then reassessed it and said it was a clean break. How poor must the administrators be running the hospital if they employ ‘doctors’ who can’t diagnose a broken arm? I feel sorry for the medical professionals who may be made redundant – I am doing a Biomedical degree – but they should mostly be able to find a job in one of the other hospitals. It’s the administration staff that must shoulder a lot of the blame. The NHS is so inefficient that there need to be some redundancies. But we need to recognise that employing a poor doctor or nurse is the fault of the pencil pushers. We need more, well-qualified doctors and less red tape for them to navigate.

  • cr

    i am a doctor and for years have known that we need to restructure our services but i am very concerned that while our health service has restructured and is continuing to restructure and save money the councils and the education service continue to merrily waste our money in old bloated structures – when the cuts come please reduce our councils to 5 and reduce the education service to 1 board as has been planned

  • There’s another rally arranged this evening @ 7 pm The Mid Ulster Hospital in Magherafelt to highlight the opposition to the proposed closure of the A&E @ Mid Ulster. There’s also a petition launched @ http://www.gopetition.co.uk/petitions/save-mid-ulster-hospital.html This, I beleive, is just the start of the fight to keep the A&E @ Mid Ulster open.

  • midulsterunionist

    I was in a car crash and was taken to mid ulster hospital when i thought i broken my knee cap and my thumb…i waited for almost two hours in A&E (during the day) until i was taken into the viewing rooms where i waited two hours without seeing anyone before being told the nurses were having a break… I walked out in disgust. Fight to keep MidUlster open? It looked more like a Republican love in with everyone listening to Marty McGuinness pretending that he can do nothing to stop the mid’s closure and then a bunch of trade unionists telling us the same and ian mccrea using the situation to give the uup a dig… whilst washing his hands of the situation, allot of pratiling and whining from the political classes and some children who are drafted in to hold placards but nothing much else really…

  • LOL @ midulsterunionist, great story. You should write for the Beeb I’m sure Casulty or Holby City could do with a comic injection 🙂

  • midulsterunionist

    Well how did the fightback go dave? I see the belfast telegraph reported 50 people (that’s out of a possible 50000 or so people in the mid ulster area) turned out for the protest… that means that at the very same time just up the street in magherafelt there were more people ordering some fast food than there was protesting…

  • The Socialist Party on their website http://www.socialistpartyni.net/campaigns/stop-the-health-cuts/328-magherafelt-says-qdont-close-our-aaeq report… “Over 800 people attended a protest against the closure of the Mid-Ulster A&E in Magherafelt” I was there on Friday evening and reckon there was about 200 -300 people there.Are you attending the rally tonight?

  • midulsterunionist

    The Socialist Party… that bastion of truth? Next thing you will be telling me that the brits are foreign occupiers oppressing the people of mid ulster because eirigi said so. No i won’t be attending this “love in” which has no other purpose than to attack the Health minister… instead i shall have a cigarette just to annoy the health authorities and then i might binge drink for a while while juggling knives… Truth is mid ulster hospital was awful, in human terms it was the old granda that’s lying in the coma and everyone knows he’s going downhill and they know it would be better to pull the plug but well it feels awful when someone actually does… and inevitably some complain about the decision whilst the rest of the family just say…”it was for the best”

  • pia_lugum

    I wouldn’t worry too much about the Mid-Ulster. Sure the bould Billy is already looking at the longterm down-sizing and blindly backing McGimpsey’s decision.
    Ian McCrea, the cratur, is just like his da in that he has to ritually condemn somebody at least once every week. I heard that the local DUP are replacing Ian for another well known local builder at next year’s assembly election. That’s him and Billy both off the ballot paper!

  • Make sure to watch Gerry Robinson tonight after the news. One casualty already, must have seen the tapes.

  • midulsterunionist

    I did some digging about… or investagative journalism as some seem to call it an dfound out that the leader of this protest Mr.hugh McCloy is a serial protestor and once scaled the grand opera house dressed as batman… is that really the sort of person you want to be following? Plus after a quick glance at their facebook page i found it was actually quite ironic… they all sit and complain about how micheal mcgimpsey is a murderer whilst standing beside martin mcguinness lol the term the Bilnd leading the Blind springs to mind

  • Since the last so called protest I’m no longer supporting Batmans crusade which I don’t believe is just about Saving the A&E @ Mid Ulster. I’m concerned that the facebook group he started will do more harm than good. I’m considering positive ways to highlight the disastrous consequences of closing the A&E Depts both in Mid Ulster and in Whiteabbey.

  • My positive response is a blog entitled “It happened to me in Antrim A&E” http://ithappenedtomeatantrim.blogspot.com a blog on which hopefully people will share their nightmares of the A&E in Antrim Area Hospital. These stories will all be forwarded to Mr McGimpsey etc etc

  • midulsterunionist

    Yea that’s my problem with it too, it seems to be more about M.McGimpsey than about saving the Mid…

  • Yes you use an air ambulance and hoefully we will as soon as the Min makes a decision

  • Hi there is no trauma cnetre in the Antrim hospital But i agree totally with you even though i live in Omagh which is about 70 miles as the crow flies from the trauma centre however basic stabalisation and other services could be put into the smaller rural hospitals to enable the Ambulance service to make safe transfers as there are major problems at the minute

  • MUU,

    I presume you are the same ‘Ulster Loyalist’ on the Facebook site. I can not fathom why you would attempt to vilifiy those campaigning for reopening of A+E. You pretended that you are not with the UUP but attack the criticism of the health minister responsible, why are you doing this online under a pseudynom unike that Conservative who attended both rallies over the previous weekend and would at least speak to those face to face? I challenge you to meet with myself Hugh or anyone else involved in the campaign at Cookstown on Saturday. You have been given ample space without censure to air your differnces but the way you have chosen to do this benefits no one it is disruptive and down right intimidating. To try and portray the campaign as some kind of Socialist or Republican vechile is to misrepresent what it really is; an eclectric mix of local people determined to have health services within reach and their life chances therefore improved this closure affects everyone regardless of political or religious affiliations (bigots and rightwingers will not be unwelcome if they can help in any way).

    dave_todd’s efforts are to be comended but as yet I have seen no posts. What is needed is not a Facebook and blogging campaign but people actually getting together in the towns and villages throughout Mid Ulster and the province and having a concerted effort to oppose this this Saturday will be the first of many. The online potential for networking thus far has been tremendous as has the turnouts in Magherfelt but the sniping that you have engaged in is going to do more harm than good.

    You can judge for yourselves the political sway the individuals like yourself or those parties which voted to implement this such as the DUP or PSF have on this campaign:



  • If the people of Mid Ulster, East Antrim and Omagh showed their opposition online to the cuts in the health service. If they showed them where it’s easy for politicians to read, easy for the management of the Health Boards to read it might have more long term impact than poorly attended rallies.As I’ve said before I’m hoping to be sent true stories to be posted on “It happened to me in Antrim A&E” http://ithappenedtomeatantrim.blogspot.com which then can be sent to Mr McGimpsey and/or management at Health Boards. As this problem is provencewide I would love to see interested people from all over the North join together to work together to get A&E’s reopened.

  • midulsterunionist

    No I am a Mid Ulster Unionist not ulster Loyalist… hence my name is Mid Ulster unionist not Ulster Loyalist, I am not a member of your facebook group nor am I particulary a UUP supporter as I have shown by my postings here on slugger… Stop trying to make out everyone who doesn’t support you is somehow all right wingers or extremists! and for God’s sake stop trying to make out everyone who has a different opinion is an Ulster Loyalist!! What ever happened to play ball not the man? Here we have someone coming on to slugger for no other reason than to attack me because of mistaken identity! I am not a conservative nor have I ever been!!! I think you have shown clearly enough what kind of campaign this is when you go trolling through the internet looking for anyone from mid ulster who is a unionist just to slabber at them!!

    I will be sending a message to your action committee to complain about this…

  • I apologise it was presumptuous of me to think that one person called ‘Ulster Unionist’ attacking the campaign on Facebook and another called ‘midulsterunionist’ on Slugger were one and the same. I came on to Slugger to see what was written in response to this article not to attack anyone. My point about the conservative was at least they would attend protests and argue face to face and not hide behind pseudonyms online! I wish you had of contacted the committee sooner with your criticism and in fact attempted to play a constructive role rather than running to them with complaints when confronted about your distorted complaining. You misrepresent me as someone who has the intention of singling out unionists in Mid Ulster to slabber at, yet, I would much prefer to hear you slabber about the three groups you have identified (similar with ‘Ulster Loyallist’ who said they had to hide behind a pseudoymn because of alleged IRSP or ‘dissidents’) namely eírígí, SF and the SP as, to my knowledge, none of their members have been allowed on to the community group. Why you made the rally attended predominately by unaligned locals as a ‘Republican love in’ and insinuate these three specifically is telling. I notice the SDLP have gotten away very lightly. It is interesting too that it was another poster, pia_lugum, who made the following predictions about the internal life of the the two Unionist parties ‘the local DUP are replacing Ian for another well known local builder at next year’s assembly election. That’s him and Billy both off the ballot paper!’ You were very quiet on that MUU it betrays your intention to stealthily engage in party politics and discredit any campaign which doesn’t accept their feigned opposition when the game ultimately is about saving lives not contemptible mud slinging!

  • midulsterunionist

    If it is any consolation I do not support Billy Armstrong who payed rental for an office of his to his wife…the office was beside his house and who also payed his daughter for working there all of course at tax payers expense, Nor do I support the DUP who after shouting and ranting for years turned their backs on many of the working people. I thought I had made it clear in my very first post on this blog that i am disillusioned with local politics on the unionist side and am awaiting a working class movement that will build up our community, I called it a republican love in because the majority of speakers support a 32 county republic of ireland… i did not agree with sinn fein IRA being present and addressing the rally, in that I am sure the majority of unionists feel the same, I don’t like the stoops either but now that i know i have to publish my entire list of likes and dislikes in every single post i make so that you can make sure i’m not someone who has an entirely different name from me i will… What you done is slandered me and made out I am someone I’m not, there are is more than one unionist in this constuency!

    Oh by the way i don’t like chicken…either, i suppose from that information you can tell me my address as well?

  • ‘i don’t like chicken…’ What has that got to do with the price of potatoes? I have no interest in sussing you out or ‘slandering’ but have repeatedly made the point that there is every possibility that both ‘Ulster Loyalist’ and ‘midulsterunionist’ set out to discredit the campaign. I have absolutely no problem with those in that political or religious group. That you present me as sectarian is slanderous! What I made was suppositions about what lay behind your attempts to vilify those on the campaign. Now you make out that you are ‘disillusioned with local politics on the unionist side and am awaiting a working class movement that will build up our community’ but your initial post had you walking out in disgust at nurses apparently having their break and the rally containing a ‘bunch of trade unionists telling us the[y can do nothing to stop the mid’s closure]’. While similarly disillusioned with local politics I would share the sentiment that a ‘working class movement’ will be needed going forward but you seem ambivalent about trade unionism. I agree that SF will turn off a lot of people (it isn’t only the unionists who feel that!) but the reason I spelled out them there groups not to gain an ‘entire list of likes and dislikes’ as you alleged but as you intimated some connexion between SP and éirígí yet all three are politically poles apart and potentially polarizing! There was another protest on Friday (28th) last and another on this Saturday which I have challenged you, ‘Ulster Loyalist’ to attend I doubt that you will bbut it would make me a lot less worried that I dealing with a shizophrenic.

  • Turgon


  • midulsterunionist

    I am disillusioned in local politics and said so in my first post which i published a few months ago! eirigi, the socialist party and even the irsp are all socialist parties which support a United Ireland, as a unionist i don’t support a UI, once again I am not an Ulster Loyalist…which is either someone who supports loyalty to Ulster rather than the UK and is usually a supporter of violence, I on the other hand am against all forms of violence and am a firm believer in the UK…

    I”m not a schizophrenic but i am beginning to wondr wot i can do to prove to you i am not an Ulster Loyalist unless i turn up at a protest i don’t support and show everyone my real identity…honest to goodness i feel like batman

  • kevin

    I as someone who does not engane in the political system i do vote but that is the height off it am becoming more scunerred (Good Belfast speak ) by the whole issue off the Mid Ulster debacle let me say that when the issue was first mooted i was one off those whom lobbied with new ideas and worked with the save the Mid Ulster mark one get information to the Councillors on how we could redevelop the services at the Mid yet they ignored them As the new campagin group are ignoring me now For the love off God if no one else stop arguing who is who and who has doen the most I could only happen in our wee Norn Ireland I do agree however that calling the Minister a murderer is well off the mark and is not going to do anyone an favours so i consider if i should continue to post to any off the sites look at the possitive news coverage we got on tues for our air ambulance and the support off a Dr in Omagh health Centre

  • midulsterunionist

    At first I think the group was just riding the wave of public resentment and in reality needed to wait a little more until people had calmed down before going on the offensive. now that the dust has settled i thing things are getting better organised and the committe is learning that they don’t have to rush, if they play it cool they can go far… i agree the group should focus more on the positives of their own campaign rather than the failures of the health trust but then again they need to let people know why they are protesting and what the plan is, I think now that the group is more focused and more ready to wage an effective campaign

  • kevin

    There are many services that could be put inot Mid ulster and we /they have to identify the biggest killers and design a stabilisation unit where theri loved one can get help before transfer there are also enough mobile and electronic services to allow linkages between all N.I. hospitals and the back up off the Air Ambulance will be a great start But not if people are told to f off by HF mc cloy

  • Very hard to understand your point there ‘kevin’. To be fair it is almost illegible. ONE air ambo can only respond to ONE incident at a time. On the ‘biggest killers’ I think we have identified that morbidity is the highest in the Northern Trust area with correspondingly high rates of diabetes heart disease.

    Why do you single Hugh out? There is no call for you to bring bitterness on-line (as can be seen by my above posts with ‘midulsterunionist’) it benefits no one and most certainly doesn’t help the campiagn! So can you make it to Meadowlane tomorrow from 11 until 1pm? We are having an informational stall and you can air your views face to face.

  • hugh mc cloy

    The save the mid ulster group stands for the re opening of a&e at the mid ulster site and the retention of acute services.

    the group does not endorse private enterprise who plan to make personal profit by establishing a business that will take away health services and public jobs in the Mid Ulster area.

    People in the Mid Ulster area pay their taxes like anyone else in this country and should not be expected to endorse and pay for a taxi service to Belfast hospitals. The initial taxi ride may be free but for continues treatment or to be there with our loved ones the people of Mid Ulster will have to make that trip personally. This could impact on poverty and jobs for those involved and is not acceptable in what we call a equatable society.

    Every community group will face attack by those who seek to make a personal profit from government failings, fortunately the people of Mid Ulster are not so naive and will continue to fight for parity in equality of public health services for the people of Mid Ulster in the local of the people of Mid Ulster .

  • kevin

    I am making it clear here and now that it was mr mc cloy who started the ball rolling i gave him my telephone number and we chatted for a hour However i did disagree with some off the points he made and he phoned me and told me to f off i have since been accused off phoning people to discredit him and have taken no action as i feel it is done in the heat off the moment
    However the point being is that an air ambulance is not a way off making money and is not private enterprise and will make no money for me e Without even asking Mr Mc Cloy has made an allagation that an air ambulance is private enterprise and will remove jobs from Mid Ulster if he cares to get the facts and if you care to get the facts the charity will place the Mid Ulster hospital in a better position to retain what you want and will bring in four payed jobs in an office in Cokstown or Maghrafelt as belive it or not i am after the same set off principals as you are however i am doing it a different way and to say morbitity is an illness shows that you have not got a clue i offered to meet hugh but as yet he has not phoned to arrange a meeting Ask hugh for my telephone number and phone me civially anytime off the day i will explain and give you the papers needed to fight a succesful campagin I am not like ulster unionist as i ahve never been involved in any party
    You say you do not understand my points Exactually however if you ask civially you will be told I am getting extremally tired off people whom have never met me rubbish me and trying to discredit me Do not Discredit Mr Mc Cloy but let him discretit everyone else i think not

  • kevin

    Why is it that anyone whom has a different way off coming to the same conclusion as the save the mid campagin are accused off discrediting it ?

  • kevin

    Dear hugh please read the post i have put on the Save mid ulster website and respond accordingly

  • padraig

    In fact the Belfast City Hospital is called by its cousins in the RVH the ‘Lisburn Road Clinic’. In house rumours say its A&E is for the chop too. The tower block is a massive White Elephant money drain. If it wasn’t for politcs, ‘A Prod Hospital for a Prod people it would have got the chop long since.

  • kevin

    just decided to put it here too so good luck

  • Hugh Mc Coy

    Where did i mention Air Ambulance?

  • midulsterunionist

    once again I am not a member of any politicla party nor have I ever been, I am a unionist from mid Ulster…hence I am a midulster unionist hence my name… though i note that certain groupings do seem intent on linking nayone who is either a unionist or a loyalist as being UUP members which shows a real lack of understanding within the group

  • kevin Taylor

    yes those people the Royal Collages are responsible for the reduction in hospitals able to retain training accredation and so the whole demise off the service goes on

    When the reach a total population catchment for all servies off 1 million it will be interesting to see the demise off Antrim Craigavon Altnagelvin and not a word will be said