Sinn Féin’s Chris Hazzard MLA has criticised the South Eastern Health & Social Care Trust (SEHSCT) for attempting to hide behind the upcoming election as fears grow in Downpatrick that more vital health services will be lost to Belfast.
Mr Hazzard said:
“Last week my office received well-placed information from 2 different sources that the SEHSCT were planning to remove Emergency Mental Health services out of Downpatrick in the next few weeks. As a matter of professional courtesy I contacted Trust officials before going public on this information to ensure that fears were not heightened for no reason.
“Unfortunately the Trust, for whatever reason, decided not to provide any comment on the query – instead using the upcoming election as an excuse not to provide clarity on the situation. This is totally unacceptable and nothing more than an attempt to hoodwink the local community.
“On the very same day the Southern Health Trust were publicly discussing services at Daisy Hill in Newry and actively engaging with public representatives on the issue. Yet at the opposite end of the county the South Eastern Trust were attempting to keep the public in the dark as to their plans.
“How do the Trust expect local people to trust them if this is how they treat them? It is totally unacceptable.
Mr Hazzard added:
“It is imperative that the SEHSCT consider their approach to engaging with the local community in Down and begin to rebuild a partnership with local public representatives and health campaigners in and effort to deliver the health services we require. The scheming and plotting behind closed doors needs to stop; when the local community ask questions about vital health services in their local area, they deserve answers on the spot.”