A local Assemblyman has called for a united stand against the decision to close the Minor Injuries Unit at Tower Hill Hospital in Armagh.
The facility is due to close on Monday, November 17, until March of next year, and is part of a plan to save money in the light of recent budgetary cuts.
The news was announced on Thursday by Southern Trust chief executive Mairead McAlinden.
Newry and Armagh Sinn Féin MLA Cathal Boylan has described the ‘temporary closure’ of the Minor Injuries Unit as “extremely premature, bewildering and disheartening” and he urged all to work together to challange the proposal.
The local MLA made his comments after a visit to the facility, where he spent some time talking to staff and patients.
“The measure of this facility’s importance to the health, wellbeing and safety of our community cannot be understated or, indeed, glossed over in a comparison exercise with other facilities.
“People and staff I talked to see this decision as extremely premature, bewildering and disappointing.
“Thousands of people use and rely on the MIU service each year. We see it as a health priority and value for money in this challenging time for all departments and public services.”
Encouraging a united approach to challenge the decision, Mr Boylan confirmed he would be meeting with chief executive Mairead McAlinden on Monday.
He added: “I will stating very clearly that the closure of this facility is not part of the solution to the Trust’s budgetary pressures.
“In the grand scheme of things, the costs to be saved by axing our MIU is relatively modest indeed.
“On the other hand, however, the human cost of the inconvenience and pain to local families, who will have to travel many additional miles to access basic medical treatments in an emergency situation, is severe.
“It appears to many that health and care facilities and units in the Armagh area have repeatedly borne the brunt of the Trust’s cuts. Many feel that it seems as though, when difficult decisions are required, we are the first name on the shortlist.
“The accumulative impact of these cuts has drastically displaced health services from Armagh at a very time when the stated aim of the Trust is to promote care in the community.
“The Trust must examine closely all the potential consequences of this move and the needs of the community.
“In the meantime I urge all to unite and work together to challenge this proposal.”
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