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Health Minister Edwin Poots to be grilled over A&E cutbacks

By Patrice Dougan

Health Minister Edwin Poots is set to be quizzed over the reduced opening hours of Lagan Valley Hospital's A&E department by officials from the local council area.

Mr Poots yesterday confirmed he has agreed to meet a delegation from Lisburn City Council to discuss the impact of the new opening hours for the unit.

The hospital was forced to close its doors at 8pm from Monday due to a shortage of junior doctors. Patients arriving after this time are being directed to one of Belfast's three hospitals for treatment.

Speaking yesterday, Mr Poots said he "welcomed the opportunity" to talk to the council members.

"I understand the concerns this has raised, not only in this trust area but also across the health sector," he said.

"This is an issue which is fundamentally about considerations of safety and quality. We all want to ensure the best possible services are available to patients."

He said the changes at Lagan Valley are "an interim measure aimed at securing a safe and effective emergency service", which will be kept under review.

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