Up to 200 jobs under threat with closure of Armagh hospitals

March 31, 2009

It is feared to 200 jobs could be lost in Armagh following the Southern Health Trust’s approval to close wards at three hospitals in the city.

The plans recently unveiled by the Trust include the downscaling of St Luke’s and Longstone hospitals as well as a reduction in services at Mullinure and are part of cost-cutting measures being proposed as part of the overall Review of Public Administration.

The news came at the same time as two care homes in County Down  – Skeagh House in Dromore and Slieve Roe in Kilkeel – which had been earmarked for closure, got a last minute reprieve from the Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey.  Now the workers in Armagh are hoping for a similar u-turn as the final decision on the future of the hospitals lies with the Minister.

Meanwhile, SDLP MLA Dominic Bradley expressed his disappointment at the Southern Health Board’s decision, saying it is ‘bad news’ for Armagh.

“The Trust says that job losses will be managed through voluntary redundancies and that anyone who wants to remain working for the Trust will be accommodated but voluntary redundancy means  job losses and that means less employment in the service in the future,” Mr Bradley said.

“I hope that I can rely on the support  my constituency MLA colleagues to help ensure that the motion is debated without further delay so that we can influence the Minister in person to review that Board’s decision with a view to having it overturned.”

Sinn Féin MLA for the area, Cathal Boylan, has also spoken out against the closure of the wards, saying the decision will have “far-reaching consequences for the patients, relatives, employees and the local economy.”

Mr Boylan stated that he is seeking an emergency meeting with the Health Minister to discuss the proposals.