by JULIE-ANN SPENCE
Julie-Ann Spence from the Ulster Star presenting the petitions to Director of Hospital Services, Mr Seamus McGoran. US4911-108A0
THE Star petition which has been signed by thousands of readers
calling for the return of 24 hour emergency cover at the Lagan Valley
Hospital has been handed over to the South Eastern Trust.
Hundreds of copies of the petition were presented to the Director of Hospital Services Seamus McGoran at the LVH.
Some people had got signatures on the petition at clubs where they
Shops put out copies and some people even went round their neighbours to seek support in an amazing display of the strength of feeling over the issue.
The petition was launched earlier this year, following the overnight closure of the Lagan Valley A&E department, to give people a chance to register their support for a return 24/7 access to the Lagan Valley Hospital.
And readers were quick to support the campaign as the Star office was inundated with petitions.
Accepting the petition on behalf of the Trust, Mr McGoran thanked those who bad signed.
"I would like to thank the people of Lisburn for letting us know how important their local hospital is to them," said Mr McGoran.
"Lagan Valley is also very important to us and we are working with GP colleagues to explore options to keep the front doors of the hospital open throughout the day.
"The Trust really appreciates the contributions made by our users and I can assure you that we will be doing all that we can to maintain accessible and local services to the people of Lisburn," he concluded.
Don't worry if you have not yet sent your completed petition to the Star. We will make sure that all petitions are forwarded to the Trust so there is still time to make your voice heard. Send all completed petitions to Ulster Star, 12A Bow Street, Lisburn, BT28 1B N.
Chief Executive of the South Eastern Trust, Mr Hugh McCaughey
PLANS to redevelop the Lagan Valley Hospital site to provide a first class heaiteh facility for the people of Lisburn could include the relocation of the city's health centre.
The Chief Executive of the South Eastern Trust, Mr Hugh McCaughey, who recently spoke with the Star about the future of the hospital, said he had a "clear vision" for the Lagan Valley and hoped that primary care in Lisburn could be integrated in one place.
We would like to see primary care integrated into the site and everyone working more closely together," he explained.
"The people of Lisburn will get a very specialist service," continued Mr McCaughey. "There has been an increase in diagnostics, we have brilliant theatres and an exemplary midwifery unit.
"The last piece of the jigsaw is to get a front door to the hospital."
The Trust's Director of Hospital Services, Mr Seamus McGoran, said that discussions with local GPs were still ongoing but added: "We are hopeful that GPs in Lisburn will come onto the site."
Mr McCaughey continued: "The current health centre is small and it is old.
"There are issues there and we all agree that it needs to relocate.
"GPs are frustrated by the difficulties in the building a n d they are currently looking at other options.
"Our clear vision is that primary care and secondary care need to work more closely together. There are benefits to having them co-located and working side by side.
"We want to see a new hospital on the site and we are still aggressively pursuing that. "There is a very exciting and vibrant future for the Lagan Valley Hospital," he added.
Mr McGoran said the Trust had been in discussions with the Department of Health about capital investment for the Lagan Valley and that he was "optimistic" about the future of the hospital.
"In very recent weeks we have been up with the Department of Health pursuing capital investment for the site," he explained.
"It is a very lengthy process but it is still very much at the top of our agenda and I am confident it is moving in the right direction. "I would be optimistic," he added_
Members of the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and NlMDTA's Senior Management Team with the Council's Cross Party Working Group on Health issues
LISBURN City Council has facilitated a round-table meeting with the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, Northern Ireland Medical and Dental Training Agency (NIMDTA) and local MP, Jeffrey Donaldson.
Speaking after the meeting the Mayor, Councillor Brian Heading, said it was encouraging that the key stakeholders seemed committed to ensuring 24-hour provision at the Lagan Valley in the future. "There is no doubt that in this era changes are coming across the health service," he said.
"Throughout the many meetings which have been held over the past months with the Trust, NIMDTA, and the Local GP Commissioning Group, there is a consensus and commitment to ensuring that services continue and are developed at Lagan Valley and we must continue to work together to further this aim."
Chairman of the Council's Corporate Services Committee, Councillor Stephen Martin expressed special thanks to the Senior Management Team of NIMDTA for going along and said that the meeting was an important opportunity to hear views from across the medical spectrum.
"The support expressed by all the organisations involved for the hospital and its services, present and future, is an important step forward as the Review of Health and Social Care provision gathers momentum.
"We remain committed to a 24-hour, 7 days a week service at Lagan Valley and will work with all those involved to ensure that this can happen.
"The Council has submitted a detailed submission to The Compton Review lobbying for this and we will continue to campaign for services at Lagan Valley Hospital," he concluded.