Final Call For Urgent And ED Care Consultation Responses

DCHC calls for responses to DoH consultation on Urgent And Emergency Care by 1st July

DCHC calls for responses to DoH consultation on Urgent And Emergency Care by 1st July

The Down Community Health Committee (DCHC) has called on interested individuals, groups and organisations, to respond to the current Department of Health Consultation on Urgent and Emergency Care before the deadline of Friday 1 July.

A spokesperson for the DCHC said: “It is essential that local voices are heard on this crucial matter”.

“Our view is that there needs to be a fair distribution of health and social care services across the jurisdiction. Health inequalities, including the discrimination against rural communities, must now be addressed. This is especially so in areas where the population is growing fast and where the age profile is changing. “

“It is quite obvious that the vast, sprawling rural East Down area, needs an Emergency Department on a 24-hour a day, seven day a week basis. This is particularly important in an area such as ours, which suffers from dreadful transport infrastructure and a woefully inadequate ambulance service.

It can be a long way from South Down to the ED at the Ulster Hospital in an emergency with a significant environmental / fuel footprint.

“The current distortion to the entire urgent and emergency care framework, as a consequence of the Belfast parish pump politics leading to an inappropriate concentration of services in and around Belfast, whilst services are denied to our community, cannot continue.

“Rural citizens across Northern Ireland have the right to access the services that they pay for through their tax and National Insurance contributions. We have rights.These rights cannot be denied to us.

“Whilst there are some welcome points in the consultation document, we feel that there are some points that require challenge.

“The document does not specify how many Emergency Departments there would be and where they would be located. Nor does it specify their grade.

“It is essential that the statistical analyses underlying the proposals reflects the pre-COVID experience, rather than the inevitably heavily distorted period since the COVID Emergency began.

“ If Urgent Care Centres are to be the way ahead, they must contain, for our area, precisely the same services that we enjoyed 10 years ago, pre any so-called “temporary” reductions in service and on a 24 hour basis.

“And confidence would be greatly increased if we were assured, for example, that there might be three urgent care centres in the Greater Belfast area but that, to improve efficiency, there would only be one Type 1 emergency department.

The Downe Hospital A&E has effective closed with a GP led service in place.

“We believe that a categorical assurance is required, for our area, that there will be a permanent and substantial Out of Hours GP service available in Downpatrick.

“We are unconvinced as to the benefits of a Phone First service. If that is indeed the way ahead, we wonder why it has not already been implemented in Belfast. Surely the Big City with all the problems in its’ emergency departments needs much more of this?

“The review fails to fully recognise an essential element in the genesis of the emergency care problem – that historic obsessions with centralisation and bed reductions has not served any of us well, as was so aptly demonstrated during the COVID emergency.

“We call on politicians of all parties, including all five parties that took place in last week’s health summit in Belfast, to place full details of the information at their disposal about proposed changes into the public domain now.

“The entire community across the North needs to be given full details of what is proposed. Otherwise, the people of Northern Ireland may well feel that they are being asked to buy in to a “pig in a poke”.

“Change is only acceptable where it delivers a better service. The people of East Down have suffered a great deal. The time has come to redress the imbalance.

“And if a fair and equitable distribution of services is not to be offered to East Down, the 25000 people who took to the streets in 2015, may well find it necessary to do so again.”

“It is time to write.

Please write, right now to the Consultation team at:

Department of Health
Regional HeaLth Transformation Directorate
Annex 3
Castle Buildings
BT4 3 SQ