19 December 2005

Tyrone hospital loses A&E service


The Tyrone County Hospital treated victims of the Omagh bombing

The Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh is to lose its emergency and major elective surgery services, the government has confirmed.

The decision follows six weeks of public consultation on the issue.

Health Minister Shaun Woodward has also recommended consolidating A&E services at the Erne Hospital in Enniskillen.

A 24-hour doctor-led urgent care unit will be set up at Tyrone County, which will continue to receive patients brought in by ambulance.

Mr Woodward said the plans offered "the best way ahead for the immediate period and viable transition towards the long term".

"The hospital will continue to meet most of the in-patient medical care needs of the local population, including coronary care," he said.

"Only very seriously ill medical cases, in particular those likely to require intensive care services, would not come to Omagh."


Mr Woodward said the Omagh area would be getting an extra 24-hour ambulance to boost the existing service, along with another intermediate care ambulance.

The transfer from Omagh to Enniskillen of emergency and major elective surgery services will take place early next year.

Accident and emergency services will also be consolidated at the Erne over the coming year.

The government's plans for Tyrone County have faced sustained opposition from politicians and campaigners in the area.

A petition against downgrading the Omagh facility was brought to Downing Street by politicians from the main NI parties.

Single issue

Campaigners to retain full services at Omagh hospital included Dr Kieran Deeny, who was elected to the assembly as an independent on the single issue of the hospital's future and Donna Marie McGillion, who was seriously injured in the 1998 Omagh bombing.

Mr Woodward had already announced two new hospitals would be built in the Sperrin and Lakeland Trust area, costing £270m.

He has said £95m would be spent in Omagh and building work would begin in 2007.

In Enniskillen, £175m would be spent on the new hospital which will be part of the network of wider acute services with Altnagelvin and Craigavon, a range of inpatient, critical care and A&E services.

In September, a report by the Royal College of Surgeons said hospital services in the south west were "unsafe and unsustainable".

The report said patients' lives were being put at risk at Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh.

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