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Members of Unison picketed outside the Civic Centre on Monday over the decision to reduce the opening hours of the Lagan Valley Hospital Accident and Emergency Department. The protest was held as Lisburn City Councilors met with representatives of the South Eastern Health Trust. US31111-122A0
HEALTH Minister Edwin Poots has agreed to meet a delegation from Lisburn City Council to discuss Lagan Valley Hospital's A&E department.
"I welcome the opportunity to meet with members from Lisburn City Council to discuss the reduction in opening hours of Lagan Valley Hospital's A&E department," said Mr. Poots.
"I understand the concerns this has raised not only in this Trust area, but also across the health sector.
'This is an issue which is fundamentally about considerations of safety and quality.
"We all want to ensure that the best possible services are available to patients.
"The chances at the Lagan Valley Hospital are an interim measure Aimed at securing a safe and effective emergency service," continued Mr. Poots.
"There has been and will continue to be substantial collaborative working between the South Eastern Trust, the Health and Social Care Board (HSC Board), the Public Health Agency, other Trusts, Local Commissioning Groups and the NI Ambulance Service."
He added: "The position will be kept under close review by the Trust. Longer term changes will be subject to full public consultation.
"This does not mean that the review of the longer term plans for Lagan Valley will be suspended—it remains the position that the Trust and the HSC Board will be giving careful consideration to a wide range of options for the future of emergency care at Lagan Valley.
"I have asked to be kept closely informed of developments," he concluded.
by JULIE-ANN SPENCE
LISBURN Councillors confronted representatives from the South Eastern Health Trust on Monday night just hours before the reduction in opening hours at the Lagan Valley Hospitals Accident and Emergency department came into effect.
Top of the agenda at the specially convened meeting was the perceived
lack of consuiteation about the changes taking place at the hospital,
the shortage and inability to attract junior doctors to the Lagan
Valley, the capacity of other local hospitals to cope with additional
Lisburn patients and the increased pressures on the local Ambulance
Service to accommodate the night-time closure.
Following a presentation by the Trust, Council members put detailed questions to the hospital chiefs and also raised their deep concerns regarding the events that led to this week's sudden closure of the A&E after 8pm in the evening.
Chairing the meeting, the Mayor, Councillor Brian Heading, said that
while the Council acknowledged
the difficulties experienced by the Trust and the comprehensive report they had brought, serious issues remained, not just for Lisburn.
He said it was clear the issue of junior doctors working in emergency medicine needs to be addressed as a matter of urgency at a national level.
"It is vital that services are restored to the A&E Department as quickly as possible," said Mr. Heading.
"There is still a very real concern about how other A&E Departments will cope with the influx of patients from the Lisburn area and the Trust is unable to give us reassurances on this.
"This situation is extremely worrying for patients, for staff, both medical and nonmedical, and the wider community, and we will continue to pressure the Trust and the Department for this situation to be rectified."
Mr. Heading also said that he would be seeking a meeting with the Medicine and Dentistry Training Agency to discuss the issue of training junior doctors.
Chairman of the Council's Corporate Services Committee, Councillor Stephen Martin, said that while he still believed that communication had fallen short prior to the announcement, it was vital that engagement now took place on a regular basis to try and resolve the crisis. "It is important to get an effective, sustainable model for the people of Lisburn," said Mr.Martin.Martin.
"Both the Trust and the Council agree that this current situation is not acceptable to anybody.
"These problems are not isolated in Lisburn and the repercussions of recent events will be felt right across the Greater Belfast area and beyond.
"This crisis is profound across the National Health Service and requires drastic and coordinated effort across all Agencies, at the highest level, to try and resolve."
Mr. Martin encouraged local people to have their say on the issue.
"People power is important so write letters, sign petitions, get involved.
"We need all hands on deck," added Mr. Martin.
Following the discussions with the Trust, the Council has agreed to request an urgent meeting with the Health Minister and to write to the Trust to request a monthly update on the recruitment process regarding junior doctors at the hospital.
Notices have been posted at the Lagan Valley Accident and Emergency Department advising people of the new hours
FIGURES released by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety have revealed that in the last three months almost 9,000 people attended Lagan Valley Accident and Emergency Department.
The statistics show that from April-June 2011, 8,656 people attended the Lisburn A&E unit, over 80% waiting less than four hours for treatment.
However, the figures have also shown that in the last three months 99 patients had to wait over twelve hours at the Lagan Valley Hospital.
It has also been revealed that in the last three months almost 50,000 people attended the A&E departments in the Belfast hospitals, which local people are expected to use when the Lisburn hospital is closed.
Over 700 of those patients who attended the Belfast hospitals had to wait over twelve hours for treatment.