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Last Updated: Thursday, 24 March, 2005, 15:49 GMT
Trust approves new hospitals plan
Police intervened as people tried to get into the meeting
Police intervened as people tried to get into the meeting
Plans for two new hospitals in Fermanagh and Tyrone have been approved, despite proceedings being disrupted for a second time.

Sperrin Lakeland Trust revealed plans for a 175m Enniskillen hospital and a 90m facility in Omagh.

The meeting was briefly adjourned after Omagh hospital campaigners heckled speakers supporting plans for a new acute hospital in Enniskillen.

There were also scuffles with security staff outside the meeting.

Special passes for Thursday's meeting had been issued to 10 people campaigning to retain acute services at Omagh.

The metal barrier was locked behind those attending the meeting
The metal barrier was closed behind those attending the meeting

However, other members of the public tried to push past a metal grille and security guards to get into the meeting.

One man said: "They've got wire and four police Land Rovers. All the paraphernalia you would need to run Sperrin Lakelands Trust meeting.

"This is a meeting which is suposed to be open to the public, where they are taking major decisions about the health of our people, and we're behind the wire. Unbelievable."

Police then intervened to try to calm the situation.

Inside, protesters heckled the speakers and board chairman Harry Mullan ordered them stop or he would have the gallery cleared. When they refused, he ordered a 10-minute adjournment.

We believe the minister's decision was fundamentally flawed
Danny McSorely
Omagh Hospital Campaign

The announcement of the new hospitals was due to have been made by the trust last week at a meeting held in Omagh.

However, it was also disrupted by protesters angry that services at the town's hospital are to be downgraded.

At Thursday's meeting, the trust announced that the proposed site for the 175m hospital will be at Drumcoo, just off the main road from Enniskillen to Irvinestown.

Both hospitals are to be opened by 2010.

Protesters are angry that acute facilities are being removed from Omagh
Protesters are angry acute facilities are being removed from Omagh

In March 2004, Omagh District Council lost a case at the Court of Appeal to challenge the decision to remove acute services from the Tyrone County Hospital in the town.

The case was brought one year after the government announced the hospital was to lose the services in favour of the new hospital.

In 2003, former Health Minister Des Browne announced that acute services were to be removed from the hospital.

At that time, he said the profile of hospital services was no longer appropriate and too many acute hospitals were being sustained for the population.

Danny McSorely from the Omagh Hospital Campaign group said the current proposals were not sustainable and would be a huge waste of public money.

"The minister has decided that a new acute hospital will be built in the south west and the preferred option for that is Enniskillen," he told BBC Radio Ulster.

"We believe that decision was fundamentally flawed. That concern of ours has never been addressed by the minister or by the department. That has to be dealt with before this matter can move on."

Mr McSorely said the group wanted the trust to look at reinstating the intensive care unit at the Tyrone County Hospital, and a deferred decision over the approval of business cases for the new acute hospitals.




SEE ALSO:
Protest delays new hospital plans
15 Mar 05 |  Northern Ireland
Council loses hospital action
09 Mar 04 |  Northern Ireland
Challenge to hospital decision
04 Apr 03 |  Northern Ireland
Legal threat to hospitals move
24 Feb 03 |  Northern Ireland


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