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Sad society that bails out banks but not hospitals

IF Health Minister Jim Wells takes a last-minute decision to reverse plans to close Bangor minor injuries unit because of the knock-on effect it would have on local accident and emergency services, why are a number of other units - including the one at Whiteabbey Hospital - still being closed as a "temporary" measure?

Not only does it undermine the original decision, but it raises questions about how and why it was taken in the first place.

"Now it's closed, now it's not" is no way to run a public service, and it is no way to treat the staff who provide it.

The A&E unit at Whiteabbey Hospital was closed in May 2010 and replaced with the minor injuries unit, which in turn has been closed, albeit "temporarily".

The Transforming Your Care plan promised local services in local communities. This is the complete reverse.

People now understand exactly what "temporary" means. The reality is that, just like the A&E unit at the City Hospital, the doors will never reopen.

For local people the closure means they have to travel to hospitals in either Belfast or Antrim, where accident and emergency departments are already under unacceptable pressure.

The minister has no option now but to follow his own logic and reopen the minor injury units closed this week.

It is a telling indictment of our society when we bail out banks but close hospital services.

GEMMA WEIR

Workers Party

Belfast Telegraph

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