HSCT Pre-Consultation document a cynical attempt to secure support to justify Stroke unit closures

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Unite calls for stroke services to be delivered across all acute hospitals with specialist treatments at a few onward treatment centres

Stroke services need investment with skilled staff deployed to meet local demand

June 13th: Kevin McAdam, Unite Regional Officer with responsibility for the Health sector in Northern Ireland responded to the publication of the HSCT’s pre-consultation document Reshaping Stroke Services.

“Unite is deeply concerned at this ‘pre-consultation’ which invites comments from key stakeholders, including trade unions, without giving any details of what is being proposed by way of actual changes in Stroke services across Northern Ireland.

“The consultation is predicated on patient number targets which are based on the English model; this would pose challenges to almost all acute units in Northern Ireland. As such, the document proposes by stealth the closure of stroke services and a concurrent undermining of the viability of existing emergency centres. This pre-consultation appears a cynical attempt to solicit responses from trade unions that might be construed as an endorsement of service rationalisation.  

“Unite supports moves to deliver better, dedicated stroke services across Northern Ireland but we do not accept that this can only or best be delivered in a handful of units. This is yet another attempt at reducing services to the smaller ‘out of town’ emergency services and a precursor to the closure of A&E services from all but the ‘Golden Six’ – an agenda driven by reducing costs in the NHS. 

“The alternative model is for stroke services to be delivered across all acute settings with more specialised treatments provided at a small number of settings. But this would involve investment and continuing support for the current number of emergency sites across Northern Ireland. Unfortunately that alternative is not up for consultation. 

“In the absence of detail Unite’s response is: stop cutting services and costs under the pretence of seeking to improve services.

“Of late we have seen health services cut and cut again while being told it’s for our own good. We need investment in stroke services with skilled staff deployed to meet local demand as opposed to a retrenchment of services to the two large conurbations.

“We’ve seen how this reduction of services has been tried as a method of cutting emergency services to more rural emergency centres like Lagan valley, Downpatrick and others, as well as the recent attempt to downgrade Daisyhill in Newry. The public must be wise to this agenda and not accept closures dressed up under the promise of better services”, Mr McAdam concluded.

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