Belfast Telegraph

Tuesday 30 September 2014

Margaret Ritchie calls for meeting over hospital reforms

Margaret Ritchie is demanding a meeting with the health minister over changes to hospital care

South Down MP Margaret Ritchie is demanding a meeting with the health minister over changes to hospital care in her constituency.

The SDLP leader is also set to challenge Michael McGimpsey on his criticism of how some of his opponents have lobbied against changes in health provisions.

Ms Ritchie is among those protesting against changes to A&E cover at Downe Hospital and the transfer of some |mental health services from the Downshire Hospital to the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald.

She said: “I have written to health minister Michael McGimpsey asking for a meeting to ask him to review his decision on Downe Hospital.

“This is not a matter of asking him to accept my personal views, but to take account of the huge level of representations from people affected by the decision. The Community of Downe and Mourne must have access to A&E and Mental Health services in their area.

“There are strong health and social arguments for the continuation of these services along with a case to be made for additional services to come to the Downe Hospital in the future.”

The MP added: “The minister has been publicly critical on a number of occasions of people whom he describes as grandstanding on this issue.

“People have concerns, very real concerns and, frankly, it is the job of public representatives like myself to make representations on their behalf.”

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