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No 'erosion by stealth' at Causeway A&E

You recently published a letter headlined, 'Relocation of A&E unit is erosion by stealth' (Write Back, June 11). The letter refers to 'the plan to move Causeway elsewhere'.

No such plan exists: Causeway Hospital is, and will remain, the centre for urgent care for the Coleraine area. The small consultant A-amp;E team there is a dedicated and committed group who have maintained a high quality service by underwriting the 24/7 service.

However, it is equally clear that there are staffing concerns that require attention. For three years, it has not been possible for the Regional Training Agency to recruit trainee doctors that are a key part of a 24/7 A&E service. This is a regional and a national problem.

For the coming year, there is cautious optimism that hospital staffing shortages may be less acute across Northern Ireland and in the Causeway.

In the meantime, we have secured some middle-grade A&E staff outside the regional training scheme. These staff are moving between medical careers.

There is no 'relocation by stealth' in progress, rather an open and honest discussion around the challenges for Causeway A&E services and the best means to meet them.

I wish to express my thanks to the three-person consultant team for their commitment to ensuring there has been no interruption to service - in spite of the lack of middle-grade medical staff.

SEAN DONAGHY

Chief executive

Northern Health and Social Care Trust

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