The Northern Trust says it has a “strong commitment” to providing services at the Moyle Hospital despite suspending the x-ray service there.
Local people have raised fears that the suspension of x-ray services at the Moyle on December 22 is the beginning of the closure of the local hospital “by the back door.”
The Trust have put forward the need to develop a modern Health and Care Hub in the Larne areaNorthern Trust
The Trust says that the suspension is due to “technical performance issues with the equipment” which came to light during a quality assurance assessment in December, meaning that it “cannot function accurately and therefore cannot be used.”
However, a Trust spokesperson stopped short of confirming that the x-ray unit would reopen, and that patients will be able to access services there again once the technical issues are addressed.
She stated: “The situation in relation to the technical difficulties cannot be resolved due to the age of the equipment.
“The Trust has met with local GPs and are currently exploring the infrastructure required e.g. the electricity supply to support the installation of modern x-ray equipment.
“The outworking of this will inform a feasibility study and business case process.”
Figures supplied by the trust show that 2862 patients attended Moyle X-ray Department in 2015/16.
Patients who would normally use the Moyle will now instead be offered appointments in Antrim Area or Whiteabbey Hospitals or Ballymena Health and Care Centre.
GPs referring patients for rapid access and reporting have been advised to refer patients to Whiteabbey Hospital or Ballymena Health and Care Centre, or patients can be seen at Antrim Area Hospital if they prefer.
When asked if any other clinics or services are under threat of closure at the Moyle, the spokesperson said that the Trust “do not plan to close any clinics or services currently run out of Moyle Hospital” and that it was “committed to providing local services to the Larne community.”
The spoksperson also denied that the suspension of x-ray services was the beginning of the closure of the Moyle “by the back door,” but said that a modern Health and Social Care Hub was needed in Larne.
“The Trust have a strong commitment to the provision of services provided at Moyle Hospital,”she stated.
“The building itself is in need of substantial investment, given its age, and the Trust have put forward the need to develop a modern Health and Care Hub in the Larne area addressing the current accommodation and service related issues with many of the existing primary care and community facilities.
“A modern Health and Care Centre or Hub in Larne has been included by the Trust within the recent review of a Capital Priorities exercise that was completed for the Department of Health in July 2016.
“The Trust continues to maintain the existing Moyle Hospital, most recently upgrading the hot and cold water services and refurbishing the kitchen.”
However, one service user said they were “angry” at the suspension of the services at the local x-ray unit, and that the existing building had been allowed to “fall into disrepair.”
“This was done on the QT before Christmas, it seems to have been done by the back door and not many people realise it is closed,” they stated.
“I’m concerned that this is the start of the gradual withdrawal of services from the Moyle with the excuse that the existing building is in disrepair.
“The x-ray department was convenient for local people, especially for those that are elderly or who aren’t well enough to travel to Antrim or Ballymena or Whiteabbey and endure long waits there.
“There seems to be more investment in other areas than here in Larne,”
The Moyle Hospital currently offers several outpatient clinics across specialities including rheumatology, diabetic, Ear Nose and Throat (ENT), orthopaedics, gynaecology, antenatal, ICATS dermatology and paediatrics. The Larne Integrated Community Team is also based in the Moyle Hospital and provides a range of multidisciplinary services to the local area such as social work, district nursing and occupational therapy.
In addition, the Inver Intermediate Care Unit providing up to 18 beds for those who no longer require acute care but need some time for rehabilitation before being discharged.