At a special council meeting on Wednesday evening 15th, councillors approved a hard-hitting cross-party response to proposals from the South Eastern Health Trust to Downgrade services at the local Downe Hospital. The document was prepared following a meeting between party leaders on Monday 13th following a three month campaign by Councillor Cadogan Enright to get the local political parties to meet and agree a common approach on the issue.
Cadogan Enright said “We finally succeeded in getting a meeting of party leaders following support from Jim Wells of the DUP and Micky Coogan of Sinn Fein. This allowed us to move forward a crossparty approach to the Trusts proposals and authorize council management and Chief Executive John Dumigan to take whatever steps are necessary to make a tough response. Council management were also authorized to meeting with the Downe Community Health campaign leaders to ensure they had dealt with all issues in their response.”
“My proposal that recent disclosures make the Trusts preferred option and the whole consultation process quite untenable were accepted by the meeting, and council management drafted a response on this basis which asked the Trust to withdraw completely its proposals. For instance the Trusts proposal on A&E was predicated on an inability to recruit staff, that they had the support of local GP’s and that there was low attendance of patients at A&E at night time.” Said Cllr Enright.
Cadogan Enright pointed out, “We now have evidence that attempts to recruit staff have been at best feeble, that there is little of no support for the preferred option from local doctors, and that figures for attendance in the local A&E at night time have been distorted by ambulances being required to drive past the A&E , taking local people unnecessarily to distant hospitals. Thus the consultation is based on false premises and its preferred option fatally undermined and the whole thing simply needs to be withdrawn. This forthright response by council allows us to set the stage for a judicial review of the Trusts proposals if the persist with them.”
“I, SF and the DUP assisted council management with the proposals for acute mental health. I was able to supply the detailed response of local GP’s on A&E proposals, and council management approached the SDLP to ask them to share key information to make the councils ‘corporate response’ more effective and inclusive. There was no assistance from the UUP on this issue. The SDLP’s previous unwillingness to let council management consult the Down Community Health Committee has been overturned and we finally have the whole district beginning to work together on this important project” Concluded Downpatrick Councillor Cadogan Enright.
To view the Down District Council submission to the Health Trust consultation click here:
To view the submission to the Health Trust consultation click here:
Press Cuttings: Councillors to back Downes A&E Unit