Rowallane Alliance councillor Patrick Brown is urging the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust to reconsider its decision to partner with a private firm proposing to offer endoscopy treatment in Downe Hospital.
Cllr Brown is instead calling for the Trust to reinstate the A&E department and invest in much-needed services for the local community.
Councillor Brown, Rowallane DEA, said: “I would like to echo the statements made by my Council colleagues and others, as we stand united in our call for our local hospital service to be protected.
“Privatising healthcare limits those who can receive treatment, and our constituents should have access to high quality local services. Whilst the difficult and unprecedented circumstances caused by the Covid-19 pandemic have undoubtedly added a strain on hospital resources, the decision to involve a private contractor for endoscopy treatments should be swiftly reconsidered.
“Instead, efforts should be made to find a cohesive solution with current medical staff and relevant unions, in order to safeguard our local services.”
The decision to close the A&E Department in Downe Hospital was taken to reallocate resources and staff to other hospitals to help fight Covid-19, especially at the peak of the virus. Whilst it is understandable that medical services needed to adapt as a response to the outbreak, Downe Hospital failed to have a sufficient offering in terms of emergency medical care prior to the pandemic, with an A&E Department that only operated for 12 hours of the day.”
Councillor Brown added: “A global health crisis should not be used as an excuse to remove or rationalise health services. Downe Hospital is a vital local employer and necessary for the health and wellbeing of residents across the District.
Local rural constituents should not have to worry that they won’t have adequate access to healthcare, as services have been displaced to Belfast or Dundonald.
“There is a clear need to invest in services; restoring those lost and making Downe Hospital a centre of excellence for a variety of treatments, mental and physical.”