SDLP East Derry MLA John Dallat has claimed that an expected public announcement on the future of the Causeway Hospital A & E Department, which was due to be revealed at a meeting of the Northern Health Trust next Friday, has effectively been shelved.
He also claimed that the Northern Health Trust has now indicated that their plan to put the decision into the public domain has been cancelled and that all documents would be sent to the Minister, Edwin Poots.
In a letter to the Trust, dated 12 June, the Minister indicated that he would make public to the Assembly, the public and all stakeholders all documentation simultaneously, Mr. Dallat said.
Following a follow-up conversation with a board official Mr Dallat claimed: “This does not come as a total surprise to me given the total opposition to downgrading the A & E Department at the Causeway Hospital.
“In a recent adjournment debate I secured in the Assembly, a record number of MLAs spoke out against any plans to restrict the opening hours of the A & E Department. In the meantime a public campaign has been gaining widespread support and a march to the hospital was in the planning.
“It seems now that the meeting of the trust next Friday which was to be in public will be held behind closed doors and I do not expect any decision to be made on the recommendation of the Local Commissioning Group led by Dr Brian Hunter.
“I also believe that given the Assembly will be in recess by 2 July the Minister will make no decision before the summer.
“However I would advise that postponing a decision in the hope that the widespread opposition to the proposal to downgrade the status of the Causeway Hospital will diminish is foolish.
“It irritates me and many other people that, while the people of Fermanagh are rightly celebrating the commissioning of a new hospital, the people of East Derry and North Antrim are fighting to retain a hospital which was built little more than a decade ago.
“The new hospital in the South East was hard fought for and I can tell the Minister that the people of this area are not ready to surrender their struggle for the Causeway which spanned three decades.”