Letter to the Editor.
Re: Hospital Task Force at Down District Council.
This committee was set up by myself when I was chairman of Down Council and with the full support of all the councillors to try to deal with the then pending Ministerial decision to reduce services to Down Hospital.
Council agreed that the Taskforce should pursue the commissioning of a consultant’s report to strengthen our arguments and to examine the possibility of having a judicial review of the minister’s decision. The Taskforce included a seat for every political party then serving on the Council. This model was used so that other stakeholders in the community could join with Councillors on the Taskforce and be part of the information gathering and decision making process that would be necessary.
Thus we had representatives from the Down Community Health Committee and other hospital support groups, local GP’s our South Down MP and MLA’s. The Taskforce met regularly and agreed unanimously to commission a consultant’s report and to support the pursuance of a judicial review of the Minister’s decision to close the full-time Accident and Emergency Service at the Down Hospital.
You can only imagine my dismay and disappointment that some of those who had seats on the Taskforce have now broken ranks and attacked the very decisions they helped to form and to which they had given their support. Never once throughout the process was there one word of criticism, doubt or dissent raised about our agreed course of action from any of the sources quoted in the local press. I can only assume that this “cave in” is because it mainly comes from Ulster Unionists who appear to be motivated only by some kind of party loyalty to the former minister who stands to be embarrassed by the Judicial Review.
It must be clear to even the casual observer that there is a case to be examined otherwise the submission for a Judicial Review would have been denied. What then is the logic of those who have caved in? Do they mean that we in Down should accept procedures not carried out legally? Do they mean that we should be told what to do by bureaucrats?
I would seriously appeal to those who voiced opposition to the agreed course of action to withdraw their comments, restore the unity which so strengthened our case in the past and join with the rest of the community to ensure the best possible services are provided at Downe Hospital.
Cllr Eamonn O’Neill.