The decision to close the Minor Injuries Unit in Armagh must be revisited on the commencement of the new Assembly.
SDLP Assembly candidate Justin McNulty said more must be done to support the provision of health care in rural communities.
“The new Assembly must review the decision to withdraw the Minor Injuries Unit in Armagh and it must go further than that, it must commit to the long term provision of health care services in Armagh City,” said Mr McNulty.
“What other city in the western world would be left abandoned by the department of health and have no hospital cover out of hours.”
He continued: “The decision to close the Minor Injury was a short sighted decision, it was made in an effort to meet short term budgetary cuts but I don’t believe that is in the interests of the people of Armagh City and its wider hinterland.
“We have seen the ongoing pressures in our Emergency Departments and only this week again the Southern Trust were appealing for people to stay away because of ongoing pressures.
“There have also been similar calls for the GP Out of Hours Service which continues to operate under constant strain. I firmly believe these pressures have only been exaggerated because of the decision to close the Minor Injuries facility in Armagh.
“The next Assembly must get to grasp with the needs of our communities in relation to health, sometimes I think that departmental officials think that the health needs of our population drop off with the M1.
“There needs to be a joined up approach to health care provision in rural communities, what happens in local GP practices or cuts to home help services has a knock on impact in our hospitals, and the length of time it takes for an ambulance to reach someone in need or the scene of a Road Traffic Accident can have real consequences to a person’s chance of survival.”
He added: “The Minister for Health and his departmental officials must stop paying lip service to health care provision in rural communities; this area has been abandoned in terms of health provision and this must be adequately addressed early in the lifetime of the new Assembly and that can start by the reinstatement of the Minor Injuries service in Armagh City.”