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Meeting gives no fresh hope for future of Armagh’s MIU

Tower Hill, Armagh

There are no indications that the Trust is poised to reopen the minor injuries unit at Tower Hill from the start of next month.

That was the frank assessment given after meetings in Armagh yesterday (Wednesday), to discuss the future of the facility.

The minor injuries was closed ‘temporarily’ last November, but it was due to reopen its doors from the end of March.

Now Health Minister Jim Wells is being asked to personally intervene.

Newry and Armagh Sinn Fein MLA Cathal Boylan met yesterday with staff and with the new chief executive of the Southern Trust.

Speaking afterwards, he said more needs to be done to stop the erosion by stealth of health services and jobs within Armagh city region and that “another long-term solution must be found”.

“Whilst I had a very engaging and insightful meeting with the new chief executive, the situation regarding the Armagh minor injuries unit is still a major cause of concern in the community, and there are no indications that the Trust will reopen the facility on April 1,” said Mr Boylan.

“I am mindful that the MIU temporary closure date is set for April 1 and I am aware this is up for consideration.

“I believe that before any decision is made there should be a full and meaningful consultation carried out so that all stakeholders can make an input.

“It is essential that, across the board, politicians, communities, health workers, voluntary groups and bodies come together to form a united, cohesive front against this and the further ‘death by a thousand cuts’ strategy being carried out in the Armagh area.

“The issue of the out-of-hours service was also highlighted and I fully understand the issues the Trust face in regards staff and recruitment.

“It is an existing issue that many of our skilled practitioners and nurses are lost due to emigration and I have been assured the Trust are doing what they can in terms of recruitment.

“I wish to take this opportunity to remind people to use their local pharmacists, who are equipped to help with minor illnesses and common conditions such as colds, aches and allergies.”

Fellow SF MLA Mickey Brady confirmed he had written to Health Minister Jim Wells, who reversed the decision to close the minor injuries unit in Bangor, urging him to do likewise in Armagh.

“Minister Wells saw fit to reverse the Bangor decision and I have asked him to reconsider the case to reopening the Armagh facility,” said the party’s local Westminster candidate. “I have also asked him to ensure that any consultation in relation to the minor injuries unit is genuine, fully inclusive and gives an opportunity to all stakeholders to give their feelings on the issue.

“I have also requested the Minister to outline his and the Health Department’s plans for the continued provision of health services and facilities in Armagh City and District.”

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