Local Councillors have expressed their frustrations with proposals by the South Eastern HSC Trust to ‘temporarily’ close the Downe A&E services in the wake of the Covid-19 epidemic.
Rowallene Councillor Deborah Owen has spoken out over the cut to the existing Downe Hospital A&E services saying that she believed all that was missing to restore services was “a will to make that happen.”
Speaking after the meeting last Thursday with Councillors and key stakeholder groups, she said: “Today, the meeting was sweetened with a pledge to return a minor injuries unit sometime in August, but this is simply not enough.
“The people of this area need the Downe Hospital open with full emergency department services reinstated. The people who we represent have waited long enough and are naturally very sceptical that this is yet another saga in the Downe hospital’s history. People are concerned that this is the start of the end for emergency services from the Downe hospital.
“As the DUP member on the South Eastern Health Working Group, I would like to make it known our displeasure of the proposed disruption of emergency services for the Downe Hospital.
“I returned to nursing to help fight COVID-19, and I know all too well the pressures and challenges faced by the hospital trusts to reform and suddenly adapt.
“I’m also aware of the concerns and scientific evidence supporting a second wave of Covid-19. But if the Southern HSC Trust can give a date for Daisy Hill resuming emergency services, why can’t the South Eastern HSC Trust?
“There are few reasons that I can see preventing the return of these services other than a will to make it happen.“
Alliance Councillor Patrick Brown said he is demanding the full restoration of services at the Downe Hospital, and clarity on the date that will happen.
He said that following a constructive and challenging meeting with representatives of the South Eastern HSC Trust on Friday afternoon, Cllr. Brown and other representatives urged the Trust to take immediate action.
Cllr. Brown said: “It is imperative that there is a complete restoration of services at the Downe Hospital. It is not enough to just operate a minor injuries unit.
“The Southern HSC Trust has given a date for the restoration of the Emergency Department at Daisy Hill, the Emergency Department at Lagan Valley hasn’t been taken away – yet residents in the Downe area still being treated like second class citizens.
“Our community should not have to worry about adequate access to healthcare and the Trust needs to take action now to rectify this.”