“Shambles” NI public meeting gets postponed after 150+ turn up
Before launching our e-Learning course Consultation and Public Events in May, we wrote extensively about public meetings. We debated whether the public meeting was dead and explored when they go wrong. Critics and campaigners often cry out that they’re views are not heard, and at the Institute, we advocate Public Consultation Hearings as an alternative to public meetings, and as a possible solution to public bodies who want to demonstrate they are listening. Could this be a solution for the NI Department of Health and their consultation? Get in touch for more information.
A public meeting about reshaping stroke care had to be cancelled last night because the room booked was not big enough for the crowd that turned out. Health staff were poised to deliver their plans to people at the Strangford Arms Hotel in a room for around 20, but more than 150 arrived.
It is understood just seven people pre-registered for the 7pm event.
Health worker James Large said: “It was an absolute shambles – a disgrace. They only had one meeting in Downpatrick for this Trust area, so I contacted them saying there was a need to hold one in the Ards Peninsula given that it’s rural and has some of the oldest demographics in Northern Ireland.
“It is that age group that is affected by stroke. They then release dates and they booked the room for 20 people – but there must have been 150+ turned up.
The room was jam-packed, the foyer of the hotel was packed and there were people right out into the car park,” added the Millisle man.
“They tried to put the blame back on the public saying you need to pre-register – but they need to realise the age profile of people who are going to these things. They should have learned from the fiasco they had in Enniskillen last year when they didn’t book a big enough room.”
The Department for Health has apologised for the cancellation, saying the meeting will be rescheduled.
A spokesperson added: “Unfortunately, we had to postpone tonight’s public engagement in Newtownards on reshaping stroke care. The room couldn’t accommodate the large numbers who attended. Apologies. The re-scheduled event will be held next week – more details to follow as soon as they are confirmed.”
The public consultation on plans to reform stroke services in Northern Ireland closes on August 2. The Department of Health is aiming to consolidate the services at either three, four or five hospitals across the region, putting in place specialist teams to provide “the highest quality care for the crucial first 72 hours”.
This article originally appeared on Belfast Live
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