City A&E could shut

Published Tuesday, 05 February 2013
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The emergency department at Belfast City Hospital could close permanently, the health minister has revealed.

City A&E could shut
The A&E at the City has been temporarily closed since November 2011. (© UTV)

The unit at the City temporarily shut its doors in November 2011 because of a shortage of doctors, but under proposals being considered by Edwin Poots, it may never reopen.

However, the A&E units at the Royal and Mater hospitals would remain open and supported by direct access to a range of specialist services at the City.

A 13 week consultation on the changes to emergency services in Belfast has been launched, which Mr Poots said is focused on the safety of patient care.

The Minister said the Trust and Health and Social Care Board assured him that the closure of the City ED would still provide a service that is "safe and sustainable and will deliver high quality care".

Following public consultation, if I decide to adopt the preferred option, this change will result in the permanent closure of the Emergency Department in Belfast City Hospital.

Edwin Poots

Senior health officials claim the move could create a more efficient health service, but health unions have previously opposed plans to close an emergency department in Belfast.

The Minister said the possible closure has been compounded due to a lack of middle grade doctors. He added that concerns remain over the level of supervision of doctors, especially junior medical staff on night shifts, but the Minister denied the measures are a result of cash shortages.

"These proposals relate to securing the safety and quality of care; they are not about efficiencies or cuts because the key issue here is the need to ensure that there is an emergency service for Belfast and the nearby areas that works and meets the needs of the population," he told the Assembly in a written statement.

"The proposals in the consultation document aim to move forward the implementation of the above policies, ensuring that patients in Belfast will continue to have access in the future to high quality services and care when they need urgent or emergency treatment."

The Minister said he was encouraged by how effective the temporary closure of the City A&E in November 2011 had been.

"From the evidence of how the temporary change has been delivered by the trust over the past 15 months I believe looking forward that we can have confidence that the model of care proposed in the preferred option is both safe and sustainable," he said.

The Royal currently serves as Northern Ireland's regional trauma centre and has provisions for intensive care, cardiac surgery, and neurosurgery, as well as specialising in the treatment of stroke patients.

Belfast City Hospital has become known as a specialist centre for cancer, oncology, renal and urology provision.

© UTV News
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7 Comments
martin in belfast wrote (532 days ago):
Everyone one that calls for cuts in public spending, this is your reward. Well done! Next time a 'fool from the hill' comes on the telly and states that public services are draining all our taxes, think about what agreeing to these cuts will close next.
Ribert in Belfast wrote (533 days ago):
This cannot be permitted to happen. I urge everyone to respond to the consultation and lobby their MLAs and MPs. The Mater and RVH cant cope. The staff and services are in meltdown and will only get worse if the City is closed permanently. This is an attempt by Stormont to bring in cuts via Westminster through the back door. Waiting times in A&E and for surgery will get worse meaning longer, overworked/stretched staff and resources will lead to poor standards and negligence. We pay enough in taxes and NI for our NHS and the brilliant professional staff whi wirk in it and we must STOP any dilution to the service and most definitely none of it siphoned off to the hungry prifiteering private sector.
Mark in Newtownabbey wrote (534 days ago):
Its a bloody disgrace. You just need to attend the royal or mater to see that they cant cope. Catch a grip. Peoples health needs to come before profit
Rab in Belfast wrote (534 days ago):
My god they cannot be serious the city hospital is my local hospital and you intend to shut down the A&E for good i dont think so Edwin. This man has not got a clue as to what hes doing. He wrecked the planning service when he was minister for the environment and now hes wrecking my health service you need to go Edwin and fast go back to farming sir as you do not seem to know what your doing at all. Keep this A&E open it serves south belfast and i am extremely angry that it was closed down on a temporary basis on a permanent basis NO NO NO!
Antaine in Belfast wrote (534 days ago):
Keep it closed. The Mater and RVH can meet the city's emergency needs perfectly adequately. We have managed for over a year with just two EDs, so we know now that we don't need three. Keep the City ED closed and maintain services at the other two sites.
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