Health proposals ‘light on detail’ say CTUC

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CAUSEWAY Trades Union Council has reitierated concern about the future of Causeway Hospital and healthcare provision in this area following proposals announced by Edwin Poots last week.

The proposals include:

* Closure of at least 50% of current statutory residential homes over the next three to five years.

* Maternity services closing in Causeway and being relocated to Antrim Area Hospital over the next three to five years.

* A 3% reduction in overall workforce over the next three to five years at which would equate to a loss of around 1,620 jobs.

* Three options for the long term future of Causeway Hospital Causeway Trades Council Secretary, Rodger Doherty said: “We welcome anything that increases, and indeed improves, health provision in this area and there are some good ideas contained within the proposals. However, there is a lack of detail as to how these proposals will be implemented and this is of great concern.

“There are further concerns around the number of jobs that will be cut. Services are already under pressure from a shortage of frontline staff and additional staff cuts will only worsen that situation. These proposals also pave the way for further privatisation of health services which is something we are totally opposed to.

“Recent revelations around poor treatment of the elderly and disabled living in care homes and the scandal over faulty breast implants show that healthcare for profit simply does not work.

“The proposal to relocate maternity services from Causeway to Antrim needs further consideration on the overall impact this move will have on women and their families, particularly given the lack of public transport between Coleraine and Antrim Area Hospital.”

The proposals detail three options for the future of Causeway Hospital and while the future of Causeway seems assured for the time being it is not clear what services will be retained.

Mr Doherty went on to say: “It appears that Causeway Hospital will be retaining a 24/7 Emergency department for the mean time but I can only give this a cautious welcome as the proposals do not detail how this will work in the long term. However, a further appraisal and consultation on this has been promised and we will be paying very close attention to this.

“We will be writing to Mr Poots concerning the questions the consultation asks – many ask for agreement to a bland statement and do not give any indication of how the proposal will be implemented or the impact on local people.

“I would urge as many people as possible to respond to these proposals detailing any concerns they have about how they will be implemented. The provision and quality of health care affects everyone living in this area and it important that the Minister is aware of how local people feel. The consultation is open until January 15, 2013.”