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Ulster Unionists voice fears over future of Coleraine’s Causeway Hospital amid plans to centralise pathology laboratory services

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William McCandless

Ulster Unionists voice fears over future of Coleraine’s Causeway Hospital amid plans to centralise pathology laboratory services

Centralisation of pathology services could threaten Causeway laboratory
Full service must be retained at Causeway hospital

Coleraine Councillor, and Ulster Unionist Assembly candidate, William McCandless has expressed concern at the possible outcome of an ongoing consultation process which is taking place with regard to the provision of pathology laboratory services at the Causeway Hospital in Coleraine.

Councillor McCandless said:

“The consultation is considering the merits of centralising services in Belfast and possibly at another location and I have genuine fears that we could lose the laboratory service we have at the Causeway and that in turn could affect our hospital’s future.

“Given the rural nature of the Causeway Coast and Glens, I am concerned that sending blood samples to another location could lead to longer waiting times for patients’ results; many of which may be critically time dependent.

“I also fear there could be an increased risk of possible clinical errors due to sample deterioration leading to samples being unsuitable for testing.

“The Northern Trust would also lose a significant amount of its budget for GP work which would have a real impact in financial terms, and call into question the viability of sustaining laboratories at the Causeway and Antrim Hospitals.

“If centralisation were to happen, the loss of this work in the Causeway laboratory would then surely call into question the viability of retaining a laboratory service there. If the laboratory service were removed from Causeway, there would be legitimate concerns that it could lead to a downgrading of the hospital from acute to subacute.

“I am not being alarmist; we already have previous examples of what happened to the Whiteabbey and Mid Ulster hospitals. Their laboratories’ workload was transferred to Antrim and their subsequent loss led to the downgrading of those hospitals.

“We witnessed the amalgamation of Mater, the Royal, Musgrave and the City hospital laboratories in recent time which was badly mismanaged. Could we expect any different in a much larger merger?

“For many years our politicians have been campaigning for a centre of excellence to be sited in the Causeway due to fears of a potential downgrading. Many assurances have been given that the hospital’s future is secure but in what category will it remain? I want to see a full service retained there.”

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