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Board re-affirms robust future role for Downe Hospital


The Health and Social Care Board today re-affirmed a robust future role for the Downe Hospital when it approved a series of important service developments proposed by the South Eastern Trust. These will involve GPs working alongside hospital doctors to staff the overnight emergency care service at the Downe hospital, together with other measures to strengthen the Trust’s mental health and disability day care services. All the service developments were the subject of an extensive public consultation held by the South Eastern Trust during recent months and approved by the Trust Board at a separate meeting held yesterday.

The Board gave its approval to the Trust’s proposals at its public meeting held today in Lisburn where its Chief Executive, Mr John Compton, stressed that its future plans for the commissioning of health care envisaged an important and enduring role for the Downe Hospital.

The Board heard that the proposals were necessary to ensure that all the Trust’s facilities continued to offer local people a necessary range of modern, safe and sustainable services well into the future. For the new Downe Hospital in particular, they provide for a balanced and sustained future role for its emergency care service that will protect the major investment that has already been made there. This will involve GPs in staffing the hospital’s emergency care service at night time – a role for which many have expressed an interest and are clinically qualified to play. This is a prudent local response to a national shortage of middle grade hospital doctors whom the Trust has been unable to recruit for such a role.

Board Chief Executive Mr John Compton played a prominent part in helping to bring about the new Downe Hospital in former roles within the health and social services, and said he fully understood the concerns of those who may have wrongly feared a diminution of its role.

“Modern hospitals must show adaptability to modern working practices, to local variation in service demand, and to their capacity to maintain the skills of their staff,” he continued. “These proposals show that adaptability and put the Downe on a better footing than previously, so people should not be concerned,” he stressed.

Mr Compton said the service developments were in the very best future interests of patients, the Trust’s staff and the wider community.

“These proposals strike a very necessary balance between the resources at the Trust’s disposal, its capacity to recruit and maintain the skills of staff, and local accessibility,” said John Compton. “This is not about cutting back upon what the Trust provides, but of putting itself in a stronger position for what the future will require of it,” he said.

The proposals that have now been approved by both the Board and the South Eastern Trust will now go forward for consideration by the Minister for Health and Social Services, Mr Michael McGimpsey MLA.