Downe Hospital:  A&E Service

Oral Answers to Questions – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 2:30 pm on 11th February 2014.

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Photo of Christopher Hazzard Christopher Hazzard Sinn Féin 2:30 pm, 11th February 2014

5. asked the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety whether he agrees with the South Eastern Trust that the preferred option for Downe Hospital is a minor injuries unit or is he committed to the full restoration of 24-hour A&E services in Downpatrick. (AQT 705/11-15)

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

I have instructed the South Eastern Trust to make greater efforts to recruit emergency doctors in order to provide a more extensive service.  I asked the South Eastern Trust to produce a plan for providing support to the people in the Downe and Lagan Valley area in the meantime.  That plan, which has been submitted to the Health and Social Care Board, will ensure that the vast majority of needs in the Downe Hospital area will be met in that facility while the trust seeks to recruit emergency doctors.

Photo of Christopher Hazzard Christopher Hazzard Sinn Féin

Go raibh maith agat.  I thank the Minister for his answer.  A connected issue is that people have no faith in the governance of the South Eastern Trust.  Does the Minister have any plans to look at the governance structures of the South Eastern Trust to see whether they are fit for purpose?

Photo of Edwin Poots Edwin Poots DUP

We all have a role, particularly me, in holding the South Eastern Trust to account.  The House has a role in that, as, indeed, have local authorities.  It is important that trusts respond to the needs of local communities.  The first elements of the provision of health and social care are safety and quality.  The trust will always want and have to ensure that they provide those.  If it falls short, it will be a matter of real concern to all of us.