ALLIANCE Newcastle Councillor Patrick Clarke has strongly urged the Health Minister Edwin Poots to do all in his power to reinstate weekend opening of the A & E Department at the Downe Hospital in Downpatrick.
Councillor Clarke who has written to the Health Minister believes that the current closure at weekends and also reduced opening hours Monday toFriday is not sustainable in the long term and needs to be a very short term measure. He added: “Like many people whom I have spoken to recently regarding the weekend closure and reduced opening hours from Monday to Fridayof the A & E Department at the Downe Hospital there is indeed within the local and wider community a great sense of anger, betrayal, frustration and very deep concern.
“It seems that the South Eastern Health Trust are hedging their bets that by closing the A & E Department at the Downe Hospital at weekends that this measure will ultimately resolve itself and alleviate the apparent shortage of qualified emergency doctors.
“I am at odds totally with Hugh McCaughey, CEO of the South Eastern Health Trust who publicly stated at a meeting which I attended that there needed to be public confidence within the community regarding the Downe Hospital and it was up to everyone to sell the Downe Hospital and the front line health care services that are based in Downpatrick.”
“Now we have Hugh McCaughey doing a complete U-turn by the South Eastern Health Trust through the closing at weekends and reduction of opening hours during the week to the A & E Department at the Downe Hospital. It seems incredible that a hospital such as the Downe Hospital does not currently have a fully functioning A & E Department.”
“I simply don’t accept the analogy which was presented to Down District Councillors, MLA’s, and MP’s who attended an emergency meeting at Down District Council offices on 23 December that the South Eastern Trust cannot recruit qualified emergency doctors.
“There has to be alternative ways of recruiting qualified emergency doctors without literally closing the A & E Department at the Downe Hospital and I think the South Eastern Health Trust would need to realize that this decision has been a bitter blow to the staff of the Downe Hospital and the large rural geographical area of Down & Mourne which the Downe Hospital serves.
“Divertingpatients to other hospitals is just a sticking plaster job and will have long term implications,” added Councillor Patrick Clarke.]]>