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The people must challenge McGimpsey decision

The decision taken by Health Minister Michael McGimpsey to downgrade healthcare services in Downpatrick is the wrong one.

But it is not by any measure the end of the road for campaigners. People of all ages and persuasions have fought to save services.

Now is the time for everyone to continue in their fight to retain a fully-functioning hospital.

If people lie down and accept the decision by the Health Minister and the South Eastern Health Trust, then we - as the wider community - have accepted total defeat.

'People-power' must now be used to reverse this draconian decision, which shows utter contempt for the healthcare that the people of Down and Mourne deserve - particularly given how the whole consultation process was so shambolically handled by the trust.

A very strong message needs to be sent to the South Eastern Health Trust and the Department of Health that Downpatrick deserves all the same frontline healthcare services as Belfast and Lisburn.

As a combined voice, the people of Down and Mourne must rally and campaign against second-class healthcare through the downgrading of services at Downpatrick.

This is completely unacceptable in any form.