Down Councilor Cadogan Enright has been assisting the Downe Community Health Committee (DCHC) with their campaign to ensure a good public bus service for the Downe Hospital.  DCHC believes that with the recent move of Doctors Surgeries up to the Downshire site, the public transport issue has become more urgent.

Cllr Enright (left) with wife Brenda and hospital campaigner Dick Shannon
Cllr Enright (left) with wife Brenda and hospital campaigner Dick Shannon

Cllr Enright said “I have been approached by large numbers of people pointing out that the Downshire site is a 30-minute uphill walk from the Bus Station for a fit person. Many of the people attending Doctors Surgeries are elderly, sick or have no access to private cars”

Ardglass-based Health Service campaigner Dick Shannon agreed and said “Cadogan and I have met with Translink to see what can be done. As far back as 2006 Translink wrote to the Health Trust stating that a shuttle bus was essential between the new ‘Public Sector Campus’ on the Downeshire site and the Bus Station. A taxi to and from the Bus Station costs £7 return and is not affordable to many people without cars, many of whom, like me, have a bus pass.”

Cadogan Enright pointed out that “Arising from a previous Community Health Committee campaign we succeeded in getting the ‘Flying Horse’ mini-bus to take in the hospital last year 6 times a day. But this level of public transport is totally inadequate and not consistent with NHS guidelines for either staff or patients. Additionally, hundreds of public sector workers are moving to the Downshire site from September onwards including the Councils own staff.”

Dick Shannon said “The design of the Public Sector Campus, Hospital and their car-parks the site is not friendly to public transport, despite the best efforts of Translink management to influence it. Normal sized buses can’t get access, and there are other impediments to buses. Listening to Translink’s ideas would let the Ardgalss bus and other local buses service the site”.

“I have co-hosted meetings between Translink and Health Trust Management with Cllr Dermot Curran, and it is clear options are available to solve this problem. Cllr Curran has pointed out that other Hospitals have had shuttle-buses funded by their Health Trusts until critical mass is achieved and they are taken over by Translink. Translink themselves have pointed out the example of the Gasworks site where each of the tenants on the site fund a small portion of the cost of a shuttle bus to the bus-station. Council Management will be pursuing these options with the Trust”, Concluded Councillor Enright.