At a meeting of the Down Community Health Committee held in Denvir’s Hotel in Downpatrick, members expressed their delight and running another white line protest in the district in support of the Love the Downe campaign.[caption id="attachment_57920" align="aligncenter" width="540"] Some local supporters and politicians get set for the white line protest in Castlewellan.[/caption]
Committee Chairman Eamonn McGrady speaking after a meeting of the Down Community Health Committee on Monday 27 July said: “We are delighted that the campaign is receiving so much support. Each white line protest in Downpatrick, Ballynahinch and now in Newcastle and Castlewellan has been well supported by our members and by the public.[caption id="attachment_57921" align="alignleft" width="390"] Kit Gotto from Newcastle with Margaret Ritchie MP, Cllr Colin McGrath, Sean Rogers MLA and Eamon McGrady, Chair of the Down Community Health Committee on protest in Newcastle.[/caption]
“We need now to get the Health Minister to visit the Downe Hospital so he can talk to the staff, doctors, and patients and get a better overviews of what the main issues are in the delivery of services.
“Fundamentally we want a full coronary care service and a 24/7/365 Accident and Emergency Department open for the people of this area.
“We will no doubt have to write to the South Eastern HSC Trust Chief Executive Hugh McCaughey in the first instance to observe protocols and request that the Minister is invited to see for himself first hand.
“We lost our A&E’s full services because the Trust said they have no doctors to staff it, and we lost our coronary care unit through the Trust trying to save money. This must be reversed as soon as possible.”[caption id="attachment_57923" align="alignright" width="270"] Chris Hazzard MLA and Councillor Patrick Clarke on the white line protest in Castlewellan.[/caption]
Also at the meeting, South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said: “It is important to get across that we must get what we were promised… that is a 24-hour acute hospistal. We were promised this only in 2003. Both the A&E and coronary care were taken away on a ‘temporary’ basis.
“We also need provision for new services which could be relocated from the Ulster Hospital. The Downe Hospital has the space to handle this. So what is stopping the Trust from doing that? Health services must be delivered at the point of need and there must be equity of services.”
Sinn Féin’s Chris Hazzard MLA has described Saturday’s white line pickets in Newcastle & Castlewellan as “a show of solidarity with the local community and Downe Hospital campaigners.
The South Down MLA said: “It was encouraging to see local activists in the streets in Newcastle and Castlewellan on Saturday morning and to receive such a warm and resolute welcome from passing cars.
“The wider South Down community has illustrated once again that they demand a locally enhanced hospital at the Downe.[caption id="attachment_57924" align="alignleft" width="270"] Eamonn McGrady, chair of the Down Community Health Committee, on the white line protest last weekend. [/caption]
“The Minister and the South Eastern Trust must listen to local demands and ensure that not only does the Downe have a future, but that the future status of the hospital is an enhanced service fit to meet local needs.”
SDLP Downpatrick councillor Colin McGrath has welcomed the continued community resolve to support the retention and enhancement of services at the Downe Hospital.
Commenting after the white line protests in Newcastle and Castlewellan, the Downpatrick councillor said: “We will always be on ‘watch’ to protect the services at the Downe.
“We must never sit back and let the few services that we have left at the hospital facility be put in danger.
“The Down Community Health Committee is doing sterling work with car window sticker campaigns, white line protests and other events to keep the community of Down galvanised in our resolve to protect and enhance services at our local health facility.
“I am pleased to be able to attend these initiatives and would urge everyone that can to support the initatives of the committee.”
Down Community Health Committee
WEDNESDAY 5th August
in Denvir’s Hotel Downpatrick
The guest speaker will be
Ruth McNamara, Area Manager for NIAS Trust
(Northern Ireland Ambulance Service)
Everyone is welcome.
This is an important meeting so please come along and attend.