SOUTH Down MLA Seán Rogers (SDLP) has secured an adjournment debate on the issue of the vital 24-hr Accident and Emergency service at the Downe where hours were recently cut.[caption id="attachment_45682" align="alignleft" width="350"] The Downe A&E department: a recent cut in its 24-hour provision has met huge political and community reaction.[/caption]
Mr Rogers said, “On Tuesday 14 January, I will be introducing a debate to the floor of the Assembly on the urgent need to fully restore A&E services at the Downe Hospital.
“It is unacceptable that on 3 of January, Accident and Emergency Services were again reduced at the Downe Hospital.
“We have been told that the sole reason for this is a shortage in middle grade doctors. However, I remain suspicious and deeply concerned at this turn of events.”
Addressing a meeting of Down District Council on 23 December, Mr Rogers further expressed his concerns saying: “If the Trust are genuine in their explanation that lack of middle grade doctors is at the root of this problem, then serious questions surrounding management issues need to be addressed. One such question being, why was this serious situation not highlighted with locally elected representatives sooner?”[caption id="attachment_32260" align="alignright" width="200"] Séan Rogers MLA has secured an important debate in the Assembly on the cut in hours at the Downe A&E.[/caption]
Concerned that rural communities are particularly at risk due to the measures adopted by the Trust, the South Down MLA said: “The people of Down District and Mourne live in a predominatly rural area with a poor rural roads’ infrastructure.
“In periods of bad weather, which we just experienced, people have major difficulties. In relation to Mourne – often there can be only one way in and one way out, so if this route is even partially blocked or traffic is not flowing freely, the already long distance is increased dramatically.”
Highlighting that residents from Annalong, Ballykinlar and Killough are now 30 miles from a 24/7 A&E Mr Rogers added: “The uncomfortable truth behind this reality is that lack of access to immediate medical assistance may in some cases be the difference between life and death.
“We must not let the Downe be stripped of its services and I fear that this is underway. I encourage the public to continue using the hospital as much as possible – it is incumbent on all of us to ensure that numbers attending clinics etc do not slip so that the Trust and the Department of Health cannot use a drop in general numbers to try and shut the front doors.”]]>