New Arrangements At Downe A&E Department Challenged

Health Campaigners Stage Candle Lit Protest Outside Downe A&E In a joint statement from Eamonn McGrady and Dick Shannon MBE of the Down Community Health Committee, a clear message of dissaproval has been voiced by the health campaigners. Their statement said, “Monday 4th April 2011 will go down in the social history of Down District as a dark, indeed black day. “The unacceptable reduction in Accident & Emergency services at the Downe is a serious blow to a community that greatly needs and values its local services. “The decision, which was taken by Ulster Unionist Health Minister Michael McGimpsey, despite widespread cross-community and political opposition in Down District, is one that must be reversed by the incoming health minister in the new NI Assembly. “The Down Community Health Committee calls on all of the political parties and their Assembly candidates in Down District to give an unequivocal guarantee that the new health minister will immediately reverse the Trust’s decision to reduce our Accident & Emergency Services, to remove the acute inpatient psychiatric unit from Downpatrick in order to relocate it at Lagan Valley on the outskirts of Belfast, a city with six accident and emergency units accessible within a very short time at the Ulster Hospital, the Mater, the Royal, the City, Antrim and Lagan Valley. [caption id="attachment_22280" align="alignleft" width="400" caption="Protesters outside the Downe Accident and Emergency Unit."][/caption] “There is a precedent, of course, for such a guarantee, as Martin McGuinness has already given one, quite rightly, in respect of the proposed new cancer unit at Altnagelvin Hospital. “We have no doubt that, when election day comes, the local community will ensure that they support candidates who are the strongest and most effective campaigners for local health services.” Speaking at the 10pm protest outside the Downe A&E Unit in Downpatrick, local party councillors from the SDLP, Sinn Féin and the Green Party at the protest expressed their exasperation at the new arrangements. SDLP Councillor John Doris said, “There is no reason for this facility to close at night. When it opened just a short time ago it filled the gap that existed between the hospitals in Belfast and Daisy Hill in Newry. This will just lead to unnecessary suffering.” Sinn Féin Councillor Liam Johnston said, “We are now left in the night time with no cover. This is a disgrace. We at least deserve equality of services with other areas. Our worst fears have now arrived.” Green Party Councillor Cadogan Enright said, “The Trust has now sunk to a new low in failing to get staff to work at the A&E.” [caption id="attachment_22281" align="alignright" width="267" caption="Downpatrick girl Aislene O'Connor pictured during the candlelight protest at the Downe A&E as the new OOH night system kicks in."][/caption] SDLP Councillor Colin McGrath who made a Freedom of Information request uncovering details of the Trust’s human tresources activity on recuitment, said, ” “Tonight is a sad night for Down Dstrict. The people of Down have spoken and we have been ignored. Democracy has lost out, our health provision has lost out and the people of down have lost out.” Down  News also spoke to protestors and three ladies from Ardglass… Geraldine Duddy, Mary McCargo and Elaine Feenan said jointly, “It will now be a very long way to take a sick person at night to Belfast. And this will present difficulties in trying to visit them. Children in hospital need to be visited at least twice a day and this will put mums under pressure especially if they have other children. There will also be a big financial factor now in travelling to Belfast.” Among the local representatives and protestors there was general confusion about the fact that the A&E Department was actually to close after 10pm and was just  accessible through a telephone query first by OOH doctors. It was only today that some of those attending found out the telephone number to call the OOH service. It is possible there may still be some confusion over this. Eamonn McGrady of the Down Community Health Committee added at the end of the protest, “More people certainly turned up than we expected. All we wanted was a small gathering to light a few candles at 10pm in protest of the change in the reduction of services.” WRITE THIS NUMBER DOWN NOW AND SAVE IT IN A SAFE PLACE.  !!!!! 028 92 602204. DOWNE HOSPITAL – EMERGENCY CARE AT NIGHT THROUGH ENHANCED GP OUT OF HOURS SERVICE In a statement from the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust, the new arrangements for  overnight emergency care at the Downe Hospital have now been set out. *  The new service started on Monday 4th April, 2011. * From 8am until 10pm, 365 days a year, the Emergency Department will operate as normal. * Overnight, from 10pm to 8am, the Emergency Department will close and the enhanced GP Out of Hours service will take over. *Patients must telephone the GP Out of Hours service before coming to the hospital – the number is (028)92 60 2204. Access is by the normal Emergency Department entrance at the front of the hospital. * In the event of a serious medical emergency, patients should telephone 999 for an ambulance, as normal. The ambulance will go directly to the Ulster Hospital or other appropriate hospital. * In the event of a sick child, again phone the GP Out of Hours number.  If the child is seriously ill, he or she may be transferred to hospital in Belfast, as happens at present. * If a medical patient requires admission to hospital, this will be arranged by the doctors staffing the Out of Hours service. If anyone is unsure what to do, please phone the GP Out of Hours service for advice.  The number is :  (028) 92 602204.]]>