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Boylan questions Minister on future of Hospitals

17 November, 2008 - by Cathal Boylan

Newry and Armagh Sinn Féin MLA, Cathal Boylan, has submitted a number of questions to Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey, regarding the proposals for St. Luke's and Longstone hospital sites in Armagh City.

Proposals set out by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust to do with forthcoming changes to Mental Health and Learning Disability Services include the closing of Villas 1 and 2, which accommodate long care patients, and the transferring of Villa 3 to Mullinure Hospital.

Commenting, Mr. Boylan said;

'I raised the issue of the future of the hospital sites at St. Lukes and Longstone back in April and May of this year. When I did so, some people accused me of scare mongering - unfortunately it can now be seen that the long term plans for the sites are anything but secure, indeed these ward closures are only the next phase of a total dismantling of services from the sites.'

'On Monday, I asked a number of questions from the Health Minister, these included what consultation has taken place with patients and their relatives and how many fully qualified nurses, porters, house keeping and auxiliary staff these proposals will affect.

'I am led to believe, after being contacted by concerned staff and seeing a letter which has been forwarded to the same staff, that patients and their families will suffer long term due to plans to transfer them to units in Bessbrook, Loughgall, Dungannon and Craigavon.

'By early 2011, services will be completely decimated, and professional and caring staff will be lost to the profession.'

Mr Boylan finished by saying;

'I have also asked the Minister if these proposals are some what premature, given that all political parties and local representatives are currently trying to have Armagh included in the Bain Report to retain Public Sector jobs, including Health Sector jobs, within the City.

If that campaign is successful - then what is the Ministers plan B? These are worrying and stressful times for patients, their families and staff - I hope that these proposals can be reversed and look forward to the Ministers reply to my questions' CRÍOCH

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