ORGANISERS of Saturday’s protest march in Coleraine against cuts to the Causeway Hospital’s A&E department have praised the “fantastic turnout” for the event.
Kim Hall of UNISON told the Times yesterday (Monday) that she was delighted with the number and range of people who marched from Coleraine Town Hall to the hospital.
“We had MLAs, councillors, consultants, doctors, heads of hospital and members of the community all marching,” she said.
“The event was very well supported and we were delighted that people had come from so many different areas, not just Coleraine.
“I spoke to people from Ballycastle, Rasharkin, holidaymakers who use caravans in Benone and Portrush and even a Scottish family who visit here every year joined the protest.
“As the march left to make its way to the hospital, I was delighted to look back from Thomas Cooke’s travel agents to see people only just leaving the Town Hall, such was the size of the crowd.
“We would estimate that there were around 300 - 400 people.”
UNISON is continuing its campaign to keep pressuure of the Health Minister Edwin Poots not to reduce A&E services in the Causeway Hospital.
They are asking all members of the public to write letters to UNISON outlining the impact that the loss of A&E at Coleraine would have on them.
“Whether you have ever had need to use A&E or not, please write to us and tell us what impact the closure of A&E would have on you,” explained Kim Hall.
“Please send your letters to firstname.lastname@example.org or just leave your letter addressed to Kim Hall at the reception area of the hospital.
“Minister Poots told us to get the public more involved in our campaign so the march and these letters are our way of doing that.
“Please support us.”
East Derry MLA John Dallat, who marched in the protest, called it a “thundering disgrace” that just over a decade since the Causeway Hospital opened, people were taking to the streets to protest at the possible cuts to A&E services.
“At the same time the people of Enniskillen have just taken delivery of a new hospital and good luck to them for the successful campaign they ran and eventually won,” said Mr Dallat.
“The people of this area should not be treated any differently and from now on it is not a simply a case of leaving things are they are but developing the Causeway Hospital as a major player in the provision of health services in the North and North West. That must include the provision of a 24 hour Accident and Emergency Service,” he added, urging members of the public to attend a public meeting being organised by the Causeway Trades Council on Wednesday 4th July at 7.30 p.m. in Coleraine Leisure Centre.
THE Causeway branch of the Labour Party has also opposed the possibility of cuts.
Spokesman for the branch, Tom Waddell, said: “The effect of the closure of a unit serving such a large area would be catastrophic, given the distance involved in travelling to either Antrim or Altnagelvin hospitals.
“We join with other local groups and campaigners in trying to save this vital service for both the community of the area and the thousands of visitors who visit the North Coast every year.
“The removal of A+E services from Causeway Hospital would put at risk lives and place in jeopardy events such as the North West 200 which rely on expert medical facilities within reasonable distance.”