Concerns have been raised after the South Eastern Health and Social Care trust revealed that plans for a new minor injuries unit at the Lagan Valley Hospital have been delayed once again.
The new unit, which will allow for an increase in opening hours at the Accident and Emergency Department, was due to open last year. However, due to budget restraints, the opening was delayed until April.
Now the Trust has said the new unit will not open in April as planned and no new date has been given.
Seamus McGoran, Director of Hospital Servicesl, explained: “The Minor Injuries Service at Lagan Valley Hospital is unable to open at present due to the implementation of contingency measures to assist the Trust to achieve financial breakeven by March 31, 2015.
“It remains unlikely that the unit will open in April 2015 due to operational issues and we are unable to confirm at this stage when the Minor Injuries Unit will open.
“The Trust is doing everything it can to address this issue and is keen to open the unit and restore seven day a week access to the hospital as soon as it is possible to do so.”
Lisburn Councillor, Alexander Redpath, together with fellow Lisburn and Castlereagh Councillors, recently met with health union Unison to discuss concerns about the future of the Lagan Valley Hospital.
“This is very disappointing news from the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust,” said Mr Redpath.
“Our top priority has to be reversing the temporary closures to the Emergency Department.
“Failing that a new Minor Injuries Unit needs to be delivered to take the pressure off A&Es in nearby hospitals.
“I think it’s naïve to say that the current crisis in A&E in the Royal Victoria Hospital has nothing to do with service closures in surrounding hospitals.
“Something has to be done to provide much needed care at the Lagan Valley Hospital which will take pressure off hard pressed emergency departments elsewhere. ”
Peter McKenna, Unison Down and Lisburn Branch Secretary, commented: “Down and Lisburn branch of Unison are disappointed, but not really surprised, by the recent announcement about the further delays in the planned opening of Lagan Valley minor injuries unit.
“I feel we must question whether the South Eastern Trust have a firm commitment for the commencement of this service at all.
“Fifteen months have now passed since the introduction of ‘temporary’ restrictions of the opening hours, in Lagan Valley and Downe hospital’s emergency departments. During this time Lisburn’s population who are in need of urgent care, are being sent to swell the numbers of patients already queuing at the emergency departments in Belfast and Craigavon.”