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Coronavirus: 'No guarantees' over future structure of Northern Ireland's health service, says Swann

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Health Minister Robin Swann. Photo credit: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

Health Minister Robin Swann. Photo credit: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

PA

Health Minister Robin Swann. Photo credit: Liam McBurney/PA Wire

The health minister has said he cannot give any guarantees over the future structure of the NHS in Northern Ireland.

Robin Swann was speaking amid claims that the emergency department at Daisy Hill Hospital has been earmarked for closure.

DUP MLA Jim Wells has said he has been contacted by a member of staff at the Southern Trust who told him they have been informed the unit will be closed in the coming days.

A spokesman from the Southern Trust last night said no final decision has been made about surge plans in response to the Covid-19 pandemic.

Mr Swann was briefing health committee members at Stormont this morning and was asked by SDLP MLA Colin McGrath to give a commitment that any changes to the health service in the coming weeks do not become permanent.

However, Mr Swann said: “I don’t know what the health service will look like in a week’s time.

“I will be perfectly blunt with you on that, I don’t know where we will be.

“Our surge plans are in place to do what we have to do.

“That’s why we’re down a number of procedures and elective surgeries that I would have never envisaged in my time as health minister, I would have to tell people they would not get.

“So, to give any sort of commitment now that we will return 100% to where we were two months ago, I can’t give it and I won’t give it because I can’t stand over it.”

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