SDLP MLA for South Down, Sinéad Bradley has asserted that nobody in South Down should be treated as second rate when it comes to access to hospital services.
Speaking in the NI Assembly in a debate regarding services at the Downe Hospital, Ms Bradley reminded the Minister that staff and services at the Downe are second to none and the estate and building itself is amongst the very best our local NHS has to offer, but sadly, she added, these facilities are underutilised.
Ms Bradley accepted there is a need for transformation within our Health Service and the reality that we cannot have every service at every hospital, but she forcefully stated there is an absolute necessity that every person in Northern Ireland has reasonable access to emergency and general services.
The geography of the South Down constituency needs to be fully understood by decision makers when it comes to the planning of the future for both the Downe and Daisy Hill hospitals, both strategically located hospitals offer a critical service to the people of South Down.
Ms Bradley explained: “ Consider a person who is travelling from Kilkeel for emergency care, perhaps in a state of distress, they will have travelled for the best part of an hour before reaching either the Downe or Daisy Hill Hospital. That journey becomes significantly longer if they do not have ease of access to transport. Having access to emergency and general services at these locations must be considered a minimum requirement for our Health Service offering.
Calling for an unambiguous statement on the future of services in both the Downe and Daisy Hill, Ms Bradley said: “any inaccuracies which have been circulating about the future of these hospitals must be addressed, the staff and residents of South Down deserve to move forward with confidence that their hospitals are secure.