Racecourse to hold stroke service meet

Racecourse to hold stroke service meet

5 June 2019

DOWNPATRICK Racecourse has been chosen as a venue for one of a series of public consultation events on reshaping stroke services across the Province.

The Department of Health has this week confirmed that the Downpatrick venue will host a public consultation event on Tuesday, June 18, at 7pm. 

The future of breast care assessment care is also out to public consultation and while this impacts on women across South Down, none of the five locations where people can articulate their views on this particular issue is within the Newry, Mourne and Down Council area.

Health chiefs say that reshaping stroke proposals will involve a new network of hyperacute stroke units, ensuring patients have access to the best possible care in regional centres of excellence. 

They also insist that the future direction of travel will lead to better outcomes for patients.

The Department of Health said the planned consultation events will allow the organisation to set out the case for change in stroke and breast assessment care.

“Patients and the public will have the opportunity to discuss the services directly with Department and give their views on our proposals,” said Permanent Secretary, Richard Pengelly.

“We have made clear that if anyone has better evidence-based proposals on ensuring reliable quality care across the province, then we want to hear from them.”

Confirmation that Downpatrick racecourse has been chosen as one of five venues to discuss the future of stroke services will be discussed at tonight’s meeting of the Down Community Health Committee at Denvir’s Coaching Inn, starting at 7pm.

The campaign group has previously called on the architects of the future direction of stroke services to factor the Downe Hospital into their thinking.

Campaigners are keen to see the Downpatrick hospital used as a ‘step down facility’ to assist stroke patients with their recovery after emergency treatment.

In the midst of fears that emergency care provision for stroke patients could be lost at a number of the Province’s main hospitals, local campaigners are keen for stroke rehabilitation services to be delivered in Downpatrick, given that an excellent medical team to deal with stroke patients is already in place.

They are adamant that the Downe is ideally placed to deliver a so-called step down facility for patients and hope their call is taken on board by those responsible for delivering the new model of stroke care by consolidating services in larger hyperacute units.

At the forthcoming meeting at the racecourse, campaigners will want to hear in detail about the future of stroke services, why it is good for the local community and what difference it will make to people across the district.

The Community Health Committee said building an entire strategy for stroke treatment and recovery and to sell that to the rural community on the strength of an improved ambulance service, which the local area has required for more than three decades and never been able to get, is particularly concerning.

Campaigners say it will be great if the proposed new stroke units leads to an improvement in the quality of life for those who recover from strokes and saves lives. What they want to know is what impact the new service will have on rural areas in particular.

There are concerns that the redesign of breast assessment services could see breast cancer services withdrawn from the Craigavon Area and Belfast City hospitals — services which women from across South Down have used.

While five venues have been chosen for people to air their views on the future of this service, none are in the Newry, Mourne and Down Council area. The consultation on this key service, which also takes place on June 18, includes venues in Newtownabbey, Newtownards, Omagh, Craigavon and Belfast.

Health officials insist that under the breast assessment proposals, services would be consolidated on three hospital sites, with the plans to consolidate breast assessment services reflecting recommendations from a project board involving clinicians from across the health and social care system.

They say breast screening services are not being changed, while a separate, clinically led review of breast treatment services will be launched in the coming weeks.

Consultation on the future of reshaping stroke and breast assessment services is scheduled to conclude on July 19. To register to take part in the stroke consultation event at Downpatrick racecourse book online at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reshaping-stroke-care-public-engagement-events-tickets-62706402538.