Hospital reduction an ‘act of madness’

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Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson has said a recommendation in a report released this week to reduce hospitals in Northern Ireland from ten to four is ‘an act of madness’.

The report by the former chief medical officer of England, Sir Liam Donaldson, was commissioned last year by then Health Minister and local MLA Edwin Poots, who has said he hoped the report would not negatively impact on the Lagan Valley Hospital.

In his report, which reviewed the health service in Northern Ireland, Sir Liam said there were too many hospitals in Northern Ireland and that local hospitals, which could not provide adequate 24/7 care should close.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson dismissed the proposal to reduce the number of hospitals in Northern Ireland, deeming the suggestion to be ‘madness’.

“A proposal that sees a reduction in the number of hospitals would be an act of madness,” said Mr Donaldson.

“We have weekly reports of Accident and Emergency Departments being overwhelmed and waiting times increasing for emergency treatment and there is no way the answer to that is to reduce further hospitals offering access to services and treatment.

“I have consistently argued that we should be going in the opposite direction, which is to reintroduce full time access at the Lagan Valley, which will ease pressure at other acute hospitals.

“Come April we expect there will be a reinstatement of that with a new unit staffed by trained nurses and doctors at the emergency department.

“I can’t see the Health Minister going along with this report and I will be making it clear that locally we will be against any cuts to hospitals.”

Former Health Minister Edwin Poots MLA said he didn’t believe the recommendations would have as much impact on the Lagan Valley Hospital as it might on other acute hospitals.

Welcoming the report, Mr Poots said: “Liam Donaldson’s report will have limited impact on the Lagan Valley Hospital as it isn’t dealing with acute work.

“I think there’s a strong case for the Lagan Valley to continue and to enhance its capability for people to get day procedures and diagnostic care locally rather than to travel to acute hospitals.”