Belfast Telegraph

Friday 18 April 2014

We must work together to stop A&E closures

THE proposed weekend closures of the A&E units at the Lagan Valley and Downe hospitals will put unsustainable pressures on already over-stretched services, inevitably putting lives at risk.

To use staff shortages as a justification for these closures is a disgrace and a red herring, as the real agenda of the health boards and the Executive is region-wide cuts across our health service.

The reality of the situation is the Assembly's austerity measures are causing wholesale suffering. These closures are part of these measures and can only result in people needlessly dying.

It must be remembered that A&E services at Lagan Valley and Downe were already cut. In 2011, A&E services in both hospitals were cut from 24 hours to 11 hours.

The reality is that it is the intention of the Assembly to run down these services to the point where these units can be closed entirely.

The Executive's plan to run down A&E services across Northern Ireland has recently been exposed by a report from the College of Emergency Medicine.

This report shamefully showed the intolerable pressures within A&E departments as a result of underfunding by the Executive.

The Socialist Party believes these closures can be stopped through mass opposition by workers, supporters and communities, through public protests and co-ordinated industrial action.

We will fully support any genuine campaigns to defend our health services.

PAT LAWLOR

Socialist Party

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