Ulster Unionist Assembly Member for South Belfast Michael McGimpsey has called on the Health Minister to rethink his decision to close the Belfast City Hospital Accident and Emergency Unit. The plans outlined by the Minister will leave the Royal and Mater having to cope with up to an extra 50,000 patients from the City as well as those who may come from Lisburn as a result of reduced hours at the Lagan Valley.
In a statement Mr. McGimpsey said, “I believe that the decision by the Minister to close the City Hospital A&E is putting money before patients. No decision should be taken on Accident and Emergency services within the Belfast area until the new A&E unit at the Ulster Hospital and critical care unit at the Royal Hospital are completed.
Almost 1,000 people per week visit the City A&E, where are these people expected to go? The Mater already copes with over 40,000 per year, the Royal 70,000 and the Ulster 70,000, more than double what it was built to accommodate. Add to this the additional numbers who will travel to Belfast as a result of reduced hours at the Lagan Valley.”
“As Minister for Health I warned that not enough money was being allocated to Health to allow it to cope with demand. This money, rather than patient lead decision will do nothing but further increase pressure on already overstretched staff and adversely affect patient care.”
In conclusion Mr. McGimpsey said, “I am calling on the Minister to hold off on any decisions for the future of Accident and Emergency services in the Greater Belfast area until work is finished on the Ulster and Royal Hospitals. Only then can we be sure that decisions are being taken in the interests of patient care rather than money.”