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New hospital opening within days

Thursday, 15 June 2017

New hospital opening within days thumbnailThe new 110 million Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex which opens on Tuesday next, June 20.

TAKING care of thousands of Tyrone patients - and those from further afield - acquires a whole new meaning when the state-of-the-art 110 million, Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex, opens its doors to the public on Tuesday next (June 20).

Not only will it provide a comprehensive range of cutting edge primary, secondary and community healthcare services to the people of Omagh and surrounding district on its 34-acre site, it will also provide advanced diagnostic services, which epitomises everything that is modern in a 21st century health service.

According to the outgoing chief executive of the Western Health and Social Care Trust, Elaine Way, this represents some 85 percent of the needs of the local community. She predicted the new facility fell into line with the policy direction and changes envisaged in the Bengoa report - the ambitious 10-year plan to make Northern Ireland's health and social care system fit for decades to come.

Speaking during a media briefing and tour of the facility on Friday, she acknowledged while there was a certain level of sadness among staff who had worked at the old Tyrone County Hospital for a long time, there was also a sense of excitement building in the lead-up to next Tuesday.

"They've [staff] been around the facility and see what's ahead and I think people are very excited by the prospect," she said.

Located at the Donaghanie Road, it is approximately 1.2 miles from the beloved 'County', which has served the area for the past 118 years. This is actually the fifth hospital move in the history of the health services in the Omagh and Tyrone district. Indeed services have already started moving and between 8am and 12 noon next Tuesday, the final pieces of the jigsaw will be put in place with the rest of the services and patients moving to their new home.

This will have an impact on the town for a spell with certain traffic restrictions being put in place. There will no longer be any services provided on the old Tyrone County site. In fact, the site will be locked down and there will be no further access to it.

 

The Western Trust, in accordance with Departmental guidance, has declared that the 'County' site will be surplus to requirements once the new hospital is fully operational.

A public sector trawl has been completed to assess potential interest in the site. Final approval of an outline business case is currently in progress for the decommissioning and disposal of the Tyrone County Hospital which takes Land and Property Services advice into account on how best to progress this property disposal. Security arrangements will be in place pending site disposal.

 The logistics and reality of moving a hospital have set in according to Professor Ronan O'Hare, assistant director for acute services for the South West Acute Hospital and Omagh Hospitals, who is spearheading the transfer.

"Already services have started to move across. We'll be in, hopefully by 12 noon, but there will be restrictions in relation to visiting and coming to see the hospital and these will exist for the rest of that day. I appreciate the community's support and their patience on the day of the move and we hope to make the move slick and safe for all involved.

"All staff are moving and not long after the hospital moves, the entire Tyrone County site will be locked down, so there will be no further access to it. The other aspect to this move is that on June 26, the GP services move across as well from their existing premises".

Professor O'Hare also dealt with the sensitive question of moving pallative care patients. "This is an extremely sensitive issue and affects patients from the rehab ward, some who can walk, some who will need wheelchair assistance, some who will be stretchered and we will work in partnership with the Northern Ireland Ambulance Service to design a system of transfer that deals with every patient's needs.

"Obviously the sensitivities around the end of life are extremely important and we have plans in place for that to happen."

Mrs Way added they were in a good position to handle this particular aspect of the move, following the experience gained back in June 2012 when they made the move from the Erne Hospital to the then new South West Acute Hospital in Enniskillen.

"It had a bigger patient population and we managed to get it done within one day. It's the clinicians who will ensure that it's handled sensitively, the doctors, the nurses AHPs who will make sure that those who are at their most vulnerable stage of life can be transferred very sensitively and privately. The ambulance service will be central to this," she said.

Meanwhile on Sunday at the grounds of the old 'County', a Service of Thanksgiving for the work of the hospital and its staff took place to acknowledge the enormous contribution the facility had made for over 100 years.

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