Causeway Chronicle

SOS Causeway reaffirms importance of embracing the ‘unique’ position of Causeway Hospital in the face of reconfiguration patterns.

Following their recent meeting with Northern Trust officials, SOS Causeway Hospital confirmed while the Trust recently offered some positive news, a truly evidence-based and solution-based approach must be priority.

Present at the meeting were Gillian Traub (Director of Operations), James Patterson (Clinical Director of Surgery), Joanne Edgar(Director of Corporate Communications) and Kevin McMahon(Clinical Director of Clinical Services) representing NHSCT, representing SOS Causeway Hospital was Gemma Brolly (chairperson of SOS Causeway Hospital), Adele Tomb (vice-chairperson of SOS Causeway Hospital) and John Boyle (Treasurer of SOS Causeway Hospital) along with esteemed colleague and previous consultant in Causeway Hospital, Dr. Owen Finnegan.

The review into general surgery at both Antrim Area Hospital and Causeway Hospital came as quite a shock to the SOS Causeway group as it broke just two days after a quarterly meeting with the NHSCT. Trust representatives did however apologise for how this transpired and offered the opportunity to meet regarding the review of general surgery.

“Much conversation occurred around the rationale for this review. All present were certainly in agreement that the position of Causeway Hospital was quite unique regarding the safety and efficiency of surgery when such factors have been mitigating factors in the reconfiguration of services in other trusts. The main factor cited in fact for the review focused on sustainability of staff within surgery, the possibility of difficulties in recruitment” stated Gemma Brolly.

Dr Finnegan explained the need for acute medicine within local hospitals, further stating that it is extremely difficult to maintain acute medical services in any hospital without acute emergency surgery, the impacts of which are far-reaching for inter-linking departments.

“We therefore welcome the confirmation from the Trust that within their plan is a 24/7 competent surgical presence in Causeway Hospital” stated Dr. Finnegan. “This is essential not only for the patient and surgery staff but for the confidence and efficiency of other departments.”

Both Adele Tomb and Gemma Brolly iterated the importance of a truly robust process in which the public could place their trust. “It is imperative at this point” stated Adele Tomb “that all levels of engagement are explored and that we have a fully transparent and evidence-based approach regarding the future of general surgery in our hospital. The faith of the public needs to be restored, particularly in engagement and consultation processes, we have expressed our desire for an independent body to oversee the implementation of such a process and its results.”

Trust officials also highlighted the incoming addition of the MRI scanner (expected in approximately one year) and other developments which were welcomed by SOS Causeway Hospital. “We welcome the commitment to enhance diagnostics which we would assume will be supported with adequate equipment and staff.

Opening up more theatres which have available capacity would help significantly with surgical waiting lists and therefore requires investment in more surgical and nursing staff. It must be highlighted however that this positive news should come as an addition in Causeway Hospital and not a cost.

Diagnostics or elective surgery does not have to be at the cost of general surgery, certainly when it has far-reaching impacts on other hospital departments. This does not necessarily have to be a choice” affirmed Gemma Brolly of SOS Causeway Hospital. “Ensuring the delivery of the unique and very positive position of acute surgery in Causeway Hospital is of vital importance, in order to ensure a true and trusting non self-fulfilling prophecy for the people of Causeway Coast and Glens.

The guarantee we received at the end of our meeting that maintaining both types of surgery on both sites is still very much an option on the table is certainly heartening. A realistic, fully robust process is of the essence for all involved, a process which will be thankfully be overseen by a minister” she included.

Causeway Chronicle

Causeway Chronicle