Sinn Féin MLA Chris Hazzard has said he is alarmed by recent revelations that confirm that the Ulster Hospital is treating an increasing number of people from the Belfast Trust area - culminating in nearly half of all patients in 2012/2013.
Speaking at a recent Health Sub-Committee meeting in Newtownards, the South Eastern Trust’s Director of Emergency Care Reform Sean McGovern confirmed that attendances at the Ulster Hospital by people living in the Belfast Trust increased by 14% in the last twelve months alone.
Mr Hazzard said:
“As South Down residents continue to struggle with the inequities of unwarranted centralisation of health services, we discover that 41% of all patients seen at the Ulster Hospital in Dundonald are actually from the Belfast Trust area.
“This information calls into question the entire rationale for the continued centralisation of health services into the greater Belfast area and indeed the purpose of the Ulster hospital – is it to be a fit-for purpose acute hospital for the people of the South Eastern Area, or simply a spill-over service for the Belfast Trust?”
The Local MLA has now called on Health officials to rethink future plans for health care in the South Eastern Trust area, and has said “local people should be at the very heart” of reforms:
“As the people of Down face the harsh realities of losing increasing health services such as our local Acute Mental Health facilities, our Cardiac Ambulance Service, and most recently our weekend and evening A&E services, it is rather obvious that the Ulster Hospital appears not to be the panacea it is routinely portrayed to the people of South Down.”