Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson
LAGAN Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson sets out his vision of how this could be a golden opportunity to make the Lagan Valley a ground-breaking healthcare facility for the 21st century.
As we look to the future in Lisburn, we need to be a bit more strategic and visionary in debating the kind of city we want to shape for the 21st Century.
Of late the economic recession and the impact on public services has resulted in a number of setbacks for our local community. However, if we adopt the right attitude and emulate the determination of our forefathers who built the strong industrial foundations of this city in the face of even greater adversity, then we can come through this difficult period and emerge even stronger.
There are still many opportunities to be grasped as we seek to develop Lisburn into the modern, vibrant city that we know it can become.
I believe there is a need for a more joined-up approach by the civic leaders of the city, myself included, if we are to shape the strategy that will help us to achieve the goals we have set for our community. The Council has a vital role to play, as do the MLA's, community representatives, business leaders etc.
An example of where this visionary leadership is needed is the debate about the future of services at the Lagan Valley hospital.
I am absolutely confident that the future of the hospital can be secured but we need to look at this in the long-term 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 that 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, laboratories 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 onto the Lagan Valley hospital site 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 proper consideration.
It would enable the better integration of primary and secondary care 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 could also mean that the hospital would be able to offer 24/7 cover by incorporating the GP service with the Emergency Department.
However, I stress that this is in the longer term and until such times as an initiative of this nature comes to fruition, there will still be the need to recruit more Junior Doctors so that the Emergency Department is restored to full capacity again. We are presently working with the Trust to achieve this.
The Trust is developing 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 Heaiteh 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 the following services on the Lagan Valley site:
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 are bringing 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 brings health services closer together and ensures access to services for the local population. Frankly, nothing less will do.
'THE Council, MLAs, MP, Health Union officials and residents of the city are firmly united in the campaign to ensure the future of emergency services at the hospital.
'We all want to see the highest quality of health care provision at the Lagan Valley Hospital. Reduction in the opening hours of the Accident and Emergency Department is completely at odds with this goal. I am pleased that so many representatives from across the community and political spectrum are joining together to show their support and stand up against the continual erosion of our local hospital. Discussions are continuing with all political parties on the way forward and I have no doubt that the people's voice will be heard loudly and clearly. It is obviously time to go back to the drawing board and we continue to work together to ensure the Lagan Valley Hospital is part of any healthcare rethink.'
Lisburn Mayor, SDLP Councillor Brian Heading
'It is vitally important that A&E departments are available for patients who need them.
'We want to ensure that services are safe for patients and that they have access to appropriate care.
'This is a very unsettling time for patients and staff and frontline staff must be engaged with and consulted on any changes to services.
'We are concerned that capacity at other A&E departments will need enhanced significantly to deal with the increase in demand brought about by the reduction in service at Lagan Valley and the removal of A&E from Belfast City Hospital.
'We also want reassurance that patient care will not suffer as a result of these cuts.'
Joanne Stevenson, RCN Trade Union Side Secretary for the South Eastern Trust