‘Dilution of services at Downe Hospital will not be tolerated’ – Ritchie

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Friday, December 20th, 2013
SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie says any attempt to dilute services at the Downe hospital will not be tolerated. The South Down MP has vowed to fight the case for the hospital after the South Eastern Trust said a shortage of doctors at its A&E units could lead to it being closed at weekends. Ritchie said should the move go ahead it would mean patients would have to travel to the already overburdened A&E at the Ulster Hospital, which she branded unacceptable. Ritchie said: “We in Downpatrick, and in the Down and Mourne area, worked for more than 30 years to secure a new hospital with services, and we are not going to allow the Trust or the Department of Health to strip away those services.” Ritchie said the people of Northern Ireland deserve and demand access to proper services and requirements that meet their medical and health requirements. “Local accessibility to services at the point of delivery is paramount and it is totally unacceptable for elderly people to have to lie on trolleys for endless periods of time, or be on waiting lists, when you have on top of that winter pressures and other emergencies. It is totally unacceptable. “We will not tolerate any dilution of A&E services, or any closures at the weekend as that would cause serious inconvenience for people who would have to travel to Dundonald to an already overloaded and overburdened service. I have no doubt this will have an impact on many other hospitals in Northern Ireland. Ritchie added, “Dilution of services or closure is simply not an option. I have been in direct contact with the South Eastern Health Trust and the Health Minister and will continue to pursue this matter.”
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