Northern Ireland

Department of Health apologises over crowded stroke services meeting

the crowded foyer Image copyright Kellie Armstrong
Image caption Kellie Armstrong took this picture in the foyer of the hotel

The Department of Health (DH) has apologised for postponing a public engagement on reshaping stroke care because too many people turned up.

The meeting was due to take place in the Strangford Arms Hotel in Newtownards, County Down, on Wednesday.

However, the department said the room could not accommodate the numbers that attended and it would be re-scheduled.

On Thursday, the department said the event will now be held in Queens Hall in the town on Monday at 19:00 BST.

A public consultation, outlining proposals to change stroke services, ends next Friday.

The meeting had been due to start at 19:00 BST.

The Department of Health said it had been using online pre-registration for the public consultation events to gauge demand and just seven people had pre-registered for the Newtownards event.

A statement added: "In Enniskillen, for instance, the level of demand led to us announcing a second event in the town before the first had been held."

However, the cancellation provoked an angry response on social media.

Alliance MLA for Strangford Kellie Armstrong told BBC News NI that the event had been a "shambles".

"To me it seemed like there were about 200 - 250 people there," she said.

She added the room was "full to busting and the foyer outside the room was also full".

Image of brain
Credit - Science Photo Library
Science Photo Library
What is proposed?

Three to five hyper-acute stroke units

  • Three-hospital modelRVH Belfast, Craigavon Area Hospital, Altnagelvin

  • Five-hospital modelThe above plus Antrim and South-West Acute Hospital

Source: Department of Health

She said people there were "very angry" and that many had suffered from strokes and had limited mobility.

"I knew people who had travelled from quite far away so it was very disappointing for them," she said.

She added that given the fact that Friday 2 August is the closing date for the consultation, she would like to see it extended.

Mrs Armstrong said that people were told to leave their name and address and they would be contacted with the details for the new meeting.

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