Mayor of 
Lisburn joins protest

The Mayor of Lisburn, Councillor Margaret Tolerton joined a protest at the Lagan Valley Hospital last Friday when staff, politicians and members of the public joined together to voice their opposition to the decision of the South Eastern Health Trust to close the Accident and Emergency Department of the hospital at the weekend.

The protest, which was organised by the trade union Unison, gave local people the opportunity to express their concern at the decision, to show their support for the hospital and call for the reinstatement of 24 hour access at the A&E.

Speaking after the protest, the Mayor said: “We have been strong advocates of the local hospital for years, but when the news of this decision broke it was a shock to us because there was no notification to the Council. We did find this very hard to take. This matter was raised with Trust Officials at a meeting of the Council’s Working Group, held at Lagan Valley Island, just before the Christmas break.

“We will hear again from the Trust at the Council’s Corporate Services Committee Meeting next Tuesday and I know Elected Members will have areas they will be raising about the Trust’s decision.

“We remain committed to restoring 24-hour access to the Lagan Valley Hospital and to do our utmost to help ensure its long term viability for its wide catchment area.”

Councillor Pat Catney, Chairman of the Council’s Corporate Services Committee, attended the meeting with Trust Officials and said: “I am glad that this matter will be able to be fully aired at our Committee Meeting next week. This period has perhaps allowed Elected Members to collect their thoughts and to proactively seek answers to their questions. We will want to know the Trust’s thoughts on the way ahead and people need to know what the future holds for the City of Lisburn’s hospital provision and what timescales are in place.”

Peter McKenna from Unison said now was the time for people to show their support for the local hospital. “It is time for the people of Lisburn and their representatives to make their voices heard on health provision issues,” he said. A working group is also being set up in Lisburn to address issues of concern surrounding the provision at the Lagan Valley Hospital.

The group, which will include councillors, trade unionists and members of the local community, will meet to discuss the ongoing crisis at the A&E department at Lagan Valley and it is hoped a public meeting will also be held in the new future to address the issues.