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Health Department must confirm U-turn on trauma Hospitals

5 January, 2007


Sinn Féin Fermanagh South Tyrone MP Michelle Gildernew MLA has called for a statement from the Department of Health on its' intention to revise proposals on life saving hospital services and a new public consultation following reports this morning that there has been a u-turn on the decision to centralise life saving hospital services in Belfast.

Ms Gildernew said:

"The leaked Trauma Report from the Department of Health which proposed the centralising of resuscitation and stabilisation life-saving services at the Royal Hospital in Belfast, the Ulster in Dundonald and at Antrim and Craigavon hospitals would leave Altnagelvin as the only access point for critically ill patients west of the Bann.

"Bypassing regional life saving services at the Daisy Hill, Erne and Causeway Hospitals would have led to the downgrading of local hospitals and would have discriminated against rural communities. Implementation of such a plan would affect the sustainability of A&E services in rural hospitals and could leave thousands without proper access to life saving services.

"What is disgraceful is that civil servants within the Department of Health were prepared to proceed with plans that would have clearly discriminated against Catholics as 62% would have lived further than 60 minutes from such services.

"Proposals to bypass the 'Acute Hospitals' of Daisy Hill in Newry and the Erne in Enniskillen would effectively lead to the creation of an apartheid system of health care in the six counties where equal access to life saving interventions is denied to hundreds of thousands of people along geographical and demographic lines.

"If these initial proposals have now been revised and are to go to full public consultation then the department need to come out quickly and confirm this. The department also needs to publish the original proposals in full along with the original Equality Impact Assessment.

"We need to ensure that this is not just a paper exercise and that there is a genuine attempt at consultation that will allow for a new approach, particularly to the issue of rural health.

"Elected representatives and communities must unite to fight the Golden Six Agenda and demand equality of access to crucial life saving services." ENDS

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