McNulty slams Southern Trust for ‘act of betrayal’

April 18, 2017

SDLP MLA Justin McNulty has slammed the decision by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust to spend over £1m at Craigavon Area Hospital, describing it as “a great act of betrayal”.

Mr McNulty and his party colleagues Margaret Ritchie MP, Sinead Bradley MLA and Councillors Pete Byrne, Declan McAteer and Thomas O’Hanlon attended the extraordinary meeting of the Southern Health Trust in Craigavon on Wednesday where Trust officials announced plans of a £1m expansion to the Emergency Department at Craigavon Area Hospital.   The increased capacity is to accommodate a possible increase of patients should Daisy Hill’s emergency department temporarily suspend, the Trust said.

Mr McNulty reacted furiously to the news: “They tried to dress this up as a ‘just in case’ scenario, but I’m not buying that.  This is a whitewash, the Trust’s hidden agenda has been exposed,” he said.

“Last year 53,000 people used the Emergency Department at Daisy Hill compared to 83,000 using Craigavon.  Daisy Hill is no glorified GP surgery, it is a busy Emergency Department and it must be maintained 24/7.”

Dismissing the Trust’s explanations, he continued, “The Medial Director explained how he didn’t expect all who currently present to Daisy Hill to automatically go to Craigavon.  He said if the Emergency Department in Daisy Hill didn’t operate from 8pm to 8am, some would come earlier in the day, some may wait to the next morning and some may go to Craigavon.  The clue is in the name – Emergency Department.  People generally only present to an Emergency Department in an emergency and with all due respect, if you have an emergency at 9pm at night, your hardly going to turn up to the Emergency Department at 6pm, three hours earlier, just in case.

“The meeting was supposed to be an update on the staffing issues in the Emergency Department in Daisy Hill and yet the last item on the agenda recommended a £1million investment in Craigavon’s Emergency Department. That’s enough to pay for ten Emergency Department consultants.  The paper, which wasn’t pulled together overnight, plans 11 new Assessment Beds in the Emergency Department at Craigavon and 18 new beds in an Inpatient Ward. This, I believe is paving the way for a longer term single emergency department.  It was put through on a nod, it was simply breath-taking.”

Mr McNulty says the move is a very serious and worrying development which has clearly been under consideration “for months” and he pledged continued opposition to any reduction of emergency services at Daisy Hill.

“I have already requested a meeting with the Department of Health’s Permanent Secretary and hope this can be facilitated as a matter of urgency.  We are not taking this decision lying down, this battle is far from over,” he added.