Sinn Féin MLA Chris Hazzard has called on the Health Minister Edwin Poots to “demonstrate real and effective leadership in the face of adversary” by establishing a way forward for emergency care for rural communities.
The South Down MLA was speaking ahead of this evening’s debate in the Assembly, which calls on the Minister to restore 24 hour A&E services at the Downe Hospital in Downpatrick.
Mr. Hazzard said:
“It is long past the time for an effective response to the reasonable demand for local emergency health services in South Down. All too often constituents are coming to my office with horror stories regarding the inadequate provision currently in place.
“The current situation is totally untenable – the fact that an elderly lady had to wait more than four hours for an ambulance on Boxing Night is a disgrace. The fact that some people are waiting throughout the night with life-threatening conditions so that they can go to their local A&E in the morning is a disgrace. The fact that a young child lying 5 miles from the Downe hospital is left to wait for an ambulance to arrive from the opposite end of the county is a disgrace.
“These are the facts of the matter. The Minister can dress them up anyway he likes, but it does not address the crisis under his nose. He must rise to the occasion – it’s time to answer the critics and demonstrate real and positive leadership for all in our community.”
Mr. Hazzard added:
“If the Minister fails to restore effective emergency care in South Down I’m afraid the consequences will be lethal. The time for addressing this crisis has come – I hope for the sake of the people of South Down the Minister can rise to the task.”