Eamonn McGrady, Chairman of the Down Community Health Committee, has called on a huge turnout to the health consultation meeting in the Downpatrick Cricket Club this Thursday, 12 January 2017.
Against a national backcloth of NHS failure with fears of collapse following a very busy winter with a crisis causing a ‘humanitarian disaster’ in the making, with the health service facing unacceptable queues at A&E’s, long waiting lists for various important treatments and a failure of community care services, local politicians and health campaigners are calling on a strong support at this coming meeting.
As part of a series of 11 consultations across the North, the meetings called by the Department of Health are designed to shape our heath services for the future. Minister of Health Michelle O’Neil has said that the key aim of these meetings is to determine the criteria for shaping the new health system.
However, Mr McGrady said: “We put 20,000 people on to the streets in a parade and mass rally in February 2015 and they were in unanimous support for the re-opening of our 24-hour Accident and Emergency and also for the re-instatement of our coronary care facilities.
“We appreciate that the Minister has a job to do, but all the people of this district are asking is to be treated equitably. The current arrangement of an A&E operating from 8am top 8pm is quite unsatisfactory for the many people in Down. Long journeys to the Ulster and the Royal Hospitals followed by trolley waits are unacceptable.
“Our local health committee has met and we have in detail discussed the key documents and I am sure that these arguments will emerge at the consultation meeting on Thursday night. But we need the support from the people of Down who quite clearly have had enough.
“Fundamentally, the voices of our local communities must be heard if you want to create a sensible health system. There are many issues facing the health care for the people of this area including the key matter of access. The public roads system to and from the Belfast hospitals is simply not up to the job.”
Mr McGrady has urged everyone to contact their local MP and MLA’s and voice their concerns regarding the level of care at the Downe Hospital, and to attend the meeting on Thursday evening at Downpatrick Cricket Club.
Newly Mourne and Down District Council is also supporting the retention of these key medical services at the Downe Hospital and a Council spokesperson said: “We wish to encourage everyone who supports the retention of 24-hour accident and emergency and other services at the Downe Hospital.
“The most important health related meeting in a generation will take place on Thursday 12 January at 7pm in Downpatrick Cricket Club. This is a Department of Health consultation meeting about the criteria to be used in making decisions about the future of local services.
“It is essential that our entire community turns out for this most important meeting. Please attend and use your influence to ensure that all cultural, sporting and religious organisations in Down District are heavily represented at this meeting.
“Don’t leave it to others. If you care, you’ll be there!”