Tyrone patients face hours-long journey for treatment

Wednesday, 21 June 2017

LOCAL patients forced to travel to Daisy HIll Hospital as a result of the Southern Health and Social Trust's decision to move services from South Tyrone Hospital face a long road to recovery, thanks to the public transport network.

The Courier revealed last month that Children's dental surgery and Ear, Nose and Throat (ENT) procedures will be transferred to Newry's Daisy Hill Hospital as part of the Trust's 15 million investment in services.

And those reliant on public transport to make the journey may have a grueling five hour journey ahead of them, if they are required to make an appointment at the hospital before 11am.

According to Translink's 'Journey Planner', the quickest way to reach Daisy Hill Hospital from Dungannon before 11am is by boarding a bus bound for Dublin at 3am.

Once in Dublin at 5.20am, the patient will have to wait until 6am when another bus departs for Belfast. It arrives in Newry at 7.30am.

Translink's Journey Planner then recommends travellers wait to 7.55am for a bus to Monaghan Street, which is a one minute journey, before a 14 minute walk to the hospital, getting travellers in at 8.10am, a full five hours and 10 minutes after setting out from Dungannon.

The most direct route arrives at 11am every morning but still requires a change of bus.

The service will pick the patient up at 8.38am from the Square and arrive in Armagh Bus Centre at 9.16am. The next bus will depart Armagh at 10am and arrive in Newry at 10.46am.

From there a walk of 14 minutes should see the patient reach Daisy Hill Hospital at 11am.

This situation has led one mother, Leanne Flanagan, whose two-year-old son Noah is currently on the ENT list at South Tyrone, to question the Trust's desire to put the needs of the patients first.

Leanne, from Moy, told the Courier she had not been informed about the decision to move the services across the country.

"We were never informed about this service moving to Daisy Hill, but that doesn't surprise me. The disruption to the lives of us and other users of this service obviously isn't a priority," she said.

"My partner and I both work local to Dungannon and Noah is in full time creche so traveling to Newry will mean time off work and creche, yet the fees still need paid.

"And what of the disruption to the lives of those who can't drive or afford bus fees?"

When asked what she would say to the Trust if given the chance, Leanne said: "I would ask them to stop piling pressure on the surrounding hospitals, therefore increasing waiting lists and prolonging patient suffering.

"There is a perfectly good hospital at South Tyrone that should be used to its fullest."

This call has been echoed by the UUP representative for Fermanagh South Tyone, Rosemary Barton.

"The removal of children's dental and ENT services from South Tyrone Hospital is extremely disappointing.

"Sadly, services have been run down over the past five years at South Tyrone Hospital and I am dismayed that the former Minister of Health, Michelle O'Neill, did not fully address this serious matter.

"I know families in the South Tyrone area who depend on these vital services and this move will only exasperate their situation."


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