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Public urged to attend meetings with health chiefs on proposed NHS shake-up

Proposals on a major shake-up of stroke services is out to public consultation
Seanín Graham

THE Department of Health has today published details of 'public engagement' events across Northern Ireland to discuss controversial proposals on overhauling stroke and breast assessment services.

Each of the five trust areas will be covered and members of the public are being invited to have their say as part of a major consultation, which ends next month.

Under the new proposals, breast assessment appointments for those with suspected cancer are to be offered in fewer hospitals and will centre on three sites - greater Belfast, Derry and Antrim.

Screening services are not being changed, while a separate review of breast treatment services is imminent.

The 'reshaping' of stroke proposals also involves a major shake-up - with the existing 11 centres slashed by almost half to provide expert round-the-clock care.

Department chiefs say the new 'Hyperacute' stroke units will ensure patients have access to the "best possible care in regional centres of excellence".

However, campaigners in Newry and Coleraine have criticised the move as Daisy Hill and Causeway hospitals do not feature in the new vision for stroke treatment.

The most senior civil servant at the Department, Richard Pengelly, said the events will allow his officials to "set out the case for change".

"Patients and the public will have the opportunity to discuss the services directly with Department and give their views on our proposals," he said.

"We have made clear that if anyone has better evidence-based proposals on ensuring reliable quality care across the province, then we want to hear from them."

In a joint statement released by the medical directors of the north's five trusts, they highlighted the need for change and urged the public to attend the events.

"Modern medicine does not stand still and nor should we if we are to deliver the specialist care our population needs," they said.

The public events will begin next Monday. Meetings will start at 7pm.

Events on breast assessment services:

10 June - Mossley Mill, Newtownabbey

12 June - Strangford Arms Hotel, Newtownards

13 June - Silverbirch Hotel, Omagh

24 June - Craigavon Civic Centre

25 June - Riddell Hall, Belfast

Those wishing to register must book online at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reshaping-breast-assessment-care-public-engagement-events-tickets-62706272148

Stroke care events:

17 June - Riddell Hall, Belfast

18 June - Downpatrick Race Course, Downpatrick

19 June - Killyhelvin Hotel, Enniskillen

1 July - Lodge Hotel, Coleraine

2 July - Canal Court Hotel, Newry

Registration is online at www.eventbrite.co.uk/e/reshaping-stroke-care-public-engagement-events-tickets-62706402538

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