Friday 15 December 2017 06:01:52 PM

Council Chairman Leads Delegation To Health And Social Care Board Over Downe A&E Hours Cuts
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Speaking after the meeting with the meeting with the Health and Social care Board, Councillor Maria McCarthy said: “The strength of the delegation was indicative of the strength of feeling against the temporary closure of A&E services in the Down.

The Down District Council delegation who met with the Health and Social Care Board. From left, Clouncillors Colin McGrath, Walter Lyons, William Walker, Maria McCarthy, Terry Andrews and Liam Johnston.

The Down District Council delegation who met with the Health and Social Care Board. From left, Clouncillors Colin McGrath, Walter Lyons, William Walker, Maria McCarthy, Terry Andrews and Liam Johnston.

“The main points put forward concerned the future of the A&E department. I raised with the Chief Executive the geography of Down District, the roads infrastructure and the influx of tourists we have during peak seasons.

“Evidence was put to the Board that the current model is not working. Already there has been one major incident declared in the RVH without a major incident actually happening. Pressure on staff, patients and the ambulance service is not sustainable. Patient safety can no longer be compromised in this way.

“A crucial point made to the Board Chief Executive was the value of the Downe which cannot be underestimated. It is a first class, high quality modern hospital. The full potential of the site needs to be realised and the rural population of Co Down and the Mournes should not be disadvantaged.

“Discussed at the meeting also were the plans for the nurse-led emergency practitioner unit. This will only be accepted as a temporary interim measure. We want to see a full installation of 24-hour A&E services led by middle grade doctors. The medical need for people in our District has not changed. The A&E has been closed at weekends as a result of a human resources and recruitment crisis. Medical need of patients cannot be put at risk due to a shortage of staff.”

Cllr McCArthy added: The Chief Executive has agreed to carry out a full investigation to the concerns raised, and agreed to explore solutions we put forward such as the potential to utilise medical staff and middle grade doctors from Lagan Valley, who are in close proximity to Belfast, for our A&E Department in the Down.

“We in Down District have a proud history of fighting against erosion of services at the Downe. We will not now stand idly back and allow cuts to happen when we have a first class modern hospital capable of delivering a first class service.”

The Downe A&E department... now closed at weekends and after 8pm weekdays.

The Downe A&E department… now closed at weekends and after 8pm weekdays.