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Sinn Féin challenge Health Minister on downgrading of Downe Hopsital

17 November, 2010

Sinn Féin MLA for South Down, Willie Clarke, has challenged the health Minister, Michael McGimpsey on the successive downgrading of the Downe Hospital.

Speaking following an Adjournment debate in the Assembly on the issue Mr Clarke said:

“A state of the art facility was opened in June of this year as the new Downe Hospital, costing the public purse £64m. Since then a successive downgrading has occurred of services and facilities at the site and it is now in danger of becoming a white elephant depriving the local communities of essential health services.

“Sinn Féin has been to the fore in defending the services provided at the Downe Hospital And are determined to resist cuts to existing services. We will not allow the people of south Down to be treated as second class citizens in terms of healthcare provision.

“Despite public reassurances and promises from the Minister that the Downe Hospital would be at the centre of health provision we learned that the Downe would have reduced beds, cuts to services at it’s A&E department, the redirecting of Ambulances and poor advertising for jobs at the hospital in what is purely a cost cutting exercise and a back door route to winding down the hospital.

“What need to happen is that the Minster, along with the Southern Trust, need to be honest, direct the necessary resources into this hospital and support the development of a state of the art facility for South Down.

“The Minister must get his house in order. On a week that we see that senior health staff travel costed £350,000 the question must be asked how much would this deliver to patients in the Downe, or indeed any other hospital.”

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