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Health Minister Jim Wells reverses decision to close Bangor minor injuries unit

Health Minister Jim Wells has reserved a decision to close a minor injuries unit in Bangor.

It was one of three MIUs earmarked for closure last month, amid increasing budget pressures.

But today, Mr Wells announced the unit is to remain open.

It was a decision welcomed by union Unite, who said the announcement came four days after a major demonstrations by its members in Bangor.

Speaking today, Mr Wells said: "I have asked the South Eastern Trust to ensure the Minor Injuries Unit at Bangor Hospital remains open.

"This will lessen the numbers attending other units including the busy Ulster Hospital Emergency Department.

"Bangor Minor Injuries Unit deals with about 10,000 attendances annually and its closure would have offered up only minimal financial savings."

Unite's Kevin McAdam said keeping the unit open was "the correct decision".

"The swift reversal by the Minister demonstrates the power of joint community and worker action, he said.

"Only last Monday striking health workers from across Northern Ireland converged to join local campaigners at a large protest at Bangor to highlight our opposition to plans to close the unit.

"Unite will continue our campaign to oppose all cuts to health services, including those at Dalriada Hospital. We will also continue to make the case for fair play for staff."

Meanwhile, Health Minister Jim Wells was accused of "fudging" a decision to shut Northern Ireland's only multiple sclerosis respite unit.

The criticism comes after Mr Wells announced an eight-week consultation on the future of the under-threat Dalriada Hospital facility.

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