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Downe Hospital is the poor relation once again

I AM extremely disappointed that Health Minister Edwin Poots has been unable to give me any reassurances whatsoever regarding the closure, and reduction in bed numbers, during the summer months at the Downe Hospital in Downpatrick.

Following concerned constituents contacting me about speculation that the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust was planning bed closures at the Downe Hospital over the summer months, I raised the matter directly with the minister.

Since January 2014 the downgrading and reduction in opening hours of the A&E unit at the Downe has already caused major difficulty and delays in patients being examined by medical staff due to patients being transferred to either Dundonald or Daisy Hill Hospitals. Now, with a busy summer tourist season upon us, there is the possibility of some reduction in bed numbers being made temporarily at the Downe.

While the minister has advised me that the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust has no plans to close beds on a permanent basis, I am most dissatisfied that the minister could not intervene to prevent any temporary closure, or reduction, at the Downe. Once again it seems the Downe is the poor relation of both the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust and the Department of Health through the downgrading and reduction in opening times of the A&E unit and possible temporary bed closures.

CLLR PATRICK CLARKE (Alliance)

Down District Council

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