[Sinn Fein]

12th June 2002

Beyond Hayes

Sinn Fein Health Spokesperson, Mid Ulster MLA John Kelly has said that today's proposals on the future of acute services go beyond the Hayes Report and represent a plan for the long overdue modernisation of hospital services in the Six Counties.

Mr Kelly said:

``These proposals represent the long overdue modernisation of hospital services in the 6 counties. They go far beyond the Hayes Report.

``Across the 6 Counties we have witnessed the decline of service from acute hospitals. These proposals will reverse this trend. They will safeguard the long-term future of ALL of our hospitals - there will be no hospital closures.

``The proposals will also radically overhaul administrative structures.

``Access times for the vast majority of the population will be 45 minutes not the `golden hour' suggested by Hayes. In assessing these proposals people will quite rightly focus on access and quality of service. It is essential that access times are minimised and that the service delivered is of a standard that people are entitled to.

``The two protected elective surgical units will help target waiting lists and the success of the two pilot midwife led maternity units will pave the way for the wider introduction of midwife led maternity services that can lead to a reduction in medical intervention in normal childbirth (our levels are currently the highest in Europe).

``The proposals will stabilise and significantly advance and improve service provision and access to services West of the Bann. There will be a new acute hospital, a protected elective surgical unit, an enhanced local hospital and a pilot midwife led maternity unit.

``Locating one acute hospital West of the Bann will not of course redress the history of neglect of this region. The need to rebalance is acknowledged by the proposal to locate an enhanced local hospital West of the Bann. It is important that we use the 12-week consultation period to identify what services are required to tackle this deficit. The enhanced local hospital West of the Bann has the potential to address the local access to service deficit caused by the history of service reduction.''

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