Ear, nose and throat Downe move blasted

Ear, nose and throat Downe move blasted

13 March 2019

THE South Eastern Trust has been criticised for not consulting local health campaigners about plans to transfer ear, nose and throat day surgery sessions from Downpatrick to Lisburn.

The service — provided at the Downe Hospital — is being moved to Lisburn’s Lagan Valley Hospital to make way for a new cataract service in Downpatrick which could be operational in the near future.

While health chiefs have confirmed that ear, nose and throat day surgery sessions are relocating to Lisburn, they insist there are no plans to reduce the number of ENT clinics delivered at the Downe, with the current number set to increase.

Last year, the Department of Health revealed that the Downpatrick hospital would be at the forefront of a new model of care with the Downe set to provide a new consultant-led, prototype cataract service for patients from across a wide area.

The new cataract service is designed to significantly reduce surgery waiting lists, with the elective care centre providing routine day surgery procedures at an enhanced outpatient department at the Downe.

While delighted with the new cataract service, a senior member of the Down Community Health Committee is upset that local health chiefs did not contact the organisation about the loss of ENT day surgery.

Mrs Anne Trainor said campaigners were previously given an assurance that any future service changes at the Downe would be discussed with them.

“We were told that health chiefs would negotiate with us when it came to service change at the Downe and we are naturally disappointed this did not happen in this particular case,” she said.

“While it is tremendous that we will soon have the new cataract service, it is bitterly disappointing we are losing ENT day surgery. No one thought this was going to happen.”

Mrs Trainor believes the Downe is capable of accommodating both ENT day surgery and the proposed cataract service, given that it is relatively modern hospital, boasting a range of high tech, diagnostic equipment and theatres.

She added: “It simply beggars belief that we are to lose a key day surgery for people with ear, nose and throat problems. The loss is compounded by the fact that local hospital campaigners were not informed this was happening or asked for their views.”

Last week, a South Eastern Trust spokeswoman confirmed there were no plans to reduce the number of ENT sessions delivered at the Downpatrick hospital. 

She added: “The Trust is planning to increase ENT clinics at the Downe and to relocate an ENT day surgery session from Downpatrick to the Lagan Valley Hospital to facilitate the cataract elective care centre prototype work.”