Sinn Féin MLA Chris Hazzard has called on the Health Minister Edwin Poots to “act swiftly and decisively so that the on-going crisis in our local A&Es can be resolved.”
Speaking ahead of a public protest tonight in Downpatrick, the South Down MLA said:
“Undoubtedly for some time now we have faced a serious problem regarding the sustainable staffing of Emergency Medicine services. This in turn has created undesirable working conditions for many of our junior doctors who have decided to avoid the opportunity to work in our local A&Es as they instead chose to emigrate or work elsewhere.
“With these dynamics in mind, the South Eastern Trust have taken the decision to simply treat the symptom by cutting the Emergency service at the Downe instead of finding ways in which the problem can be tackled at the source – by successfully addressing the issue of sustainable staffing arrangements.
“Our leaders within the Health system must continue to explore ways in which we can secure the long-term viability of our local hospital services. They must look at ways in which employment terms & conditions can be designed so that our local A&Es become attractive places of work for our medical staff once again.
The South Down MLA also said that the Minister should engage with the Minister for Employment & Learning to explore ways in which training and recruitment can be enhanced in future:
“We know that the cost of Medical School is fairly expensive, perhaps a scheme can be designed whereby the cost of fees is partially covered if graduates work in our local A&Es for a number of years before moving on elsewhere – something like this would surely help begin to address the staffing issue.”