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Closing A&E unit puts my brother’s life in real danger

The sister of a man severely brain-damaged as a result of the Kegworth air disaster said he is only alive today because of the recent care he received at the Mid Ulster Hospital.

Yvonne McCoy, the carer for Stephen McCoy, said she has serious concerns about the ability of Antrim Area Hospital to cope with her brother’s complex medical needs once the A&E department at the Mid Ulster closes on Monday.

Mr McCoy was aged 16 when he was a passenger on board the British Midlands flight that crashed onto the M1 near Kegworth in 1989.

He was in a coma for six months and was left with profound brain damage after the crash that killed 47 people. As a result of his injuries Stephen is prone to infections and in December was rushed to Antrim Area Hospital from his home in Toome after developing pneumonia.

Ms McCoy said her brother arrived at the A&E department at about 10pm but was transferred to the Mid Ulster the following morning due to a lack of beds at the Antrim hospital.

Ms McCoy said: “I can’t say enough about the staff at Mid Ulster. If it wasn’t for them, Stephen wouldn’t be alive today.

“They know his medical history and they know him well so they know immediately when he isn’t well. They gave me their telephone numbers so I can ring them at any time if I am worried about anything. Closing the A&E at Mid Ulster could be life-threatening for Stephen.

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“Stephen has a lot of complications. He has epilepsy and is prone to kidney infections and pneumonia and when that happens he needs IV antibiotics and oxygen. It’s going to be very upsetting for him having to go to another hospital.”

She added: “Last Christmas Stephen wasn’t well and he was taken by ambulance to Antrim. He got there at about 10pm and lay on a trolley until about 6am, and then they ended up taking him to Mid Ulster anyway.

“Being disabled is bad enough but being disabled and sick is an awful lot worse.”

In addition to her concerns about whether there will be adequate staff and beds at Antrim to cope with the influx of patients, Ms McCoy said she faces additional stress when her brother is treated at Antrim because of parking issues. “You could drive around for ages looking for a space, which never happens at Mid Ulster,” she said.

A spokeswoman from the Northern Trust declined to comment on the matter.

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