Over 300 people gathered at a rally last night to put pressure on the Health Minister to reverse his controversial decision to shut Mid Ulster Hospital’s A&E.
The protest, held in Magherafelt town centre, was the second such event to be held in the area in recent days as the Northern Trust presses ahead with plans to downgrade the acute medical provision at the hospital to a minor injury unit from the beginning of next week.
Earlier in the week, members of the community staged a protest at the gates of the Mid Ulster calling for Michael McGimpsey to review his decision.
At last night’s event, Sinn Fein Mid Ulster MP and Deputy First Minister Martin McGuinness was joined by SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone and DUP MLA Ian McCrea and representatives from Nipsa, who all turned out to demonstrate their anger at the controversial plans.
Independent MLA Dr Kieran Deeny was also present and said: “Fighting cuts like this is exactly why I got into politics in the first place. Lives will be lost as a result of these closures.
“I am horrified and shocked the Health Minister has made this decision.
“We need an A&E in the centre of Northern Ireland. I can quote countless cases of patients who are only alive today because they got to an A&E quickly.
“I am disgusted at any suggestion that time is not of the essence when treating a patient in an emergency. Anyone who says that has no experience of treating emergencies in the community.”
Dr Deeny added: “It is also nonsense for the decision to be blamed on doctors and nurses.
“I am sick of hearing services have to be shut because doctors and nurses won’t come and work in a particular hospital.
“Once an announcement has been made that a service such as A&E is going why would any junior doctor or consultant want to work there when it is clear services are being run down? They won’t get the experience or training they need.
“The trusts make these announcements and then let the hospitals run down until they have to be closed.”