LOCAL councillors have had their first glimpse at the response to the Transforming Your Care review of Health and Social Care in Northern Ireland.
And the overwhelming feeling was the council must fight to keep the Causeway Hospital’s acute services.
Mr Colin Stutt, who compiled the response for the Northern area, presented it to Coleraine Council last Tuesday night.
Mr Stutt spoke with a number of local bodies with regards to how best transform care in the area. Councillors welcomed the response but said it needed to be stronger in its message.
“Mr Stutt says we should ‘press for the retention of the Causeway Hospital A&E’ but I am demanding it,” said Alderman Adrian McQuillan.
Cllr William McCandless agreed saying: “I feel this report is not assertive or aggressive enough.
“We all know the level of feeling in this borough regarding the rumours of closure and this response doesn’t show the level of protest.
“As councillors we should have the opportunity to debate this further so as we can make sure it reflects the tone we want.
“As such I propose we delay our response until we have had the opportunity to discuss it collectively.”
Ald Maurice Bradley echoed Cllr McCandless’ sentiments saying he wanted to discus things further with his party, councillors and the people of the borough.
Independent councillor David McClarty said the future of the hospital was at the top of the agenda locally.
“Along with the economy the future of the hospital is the number one concern for the vast majority of the public,”said Cllr McClarty.
“As councillors we need to digest all this information and make sure we put together the right response.”
Ald James McClure, who was instrumental in securing the Causeway Hospital for Coleraine, said it was time to fight to keep it.
“We have a good hospital here in the borough, we had to fight to get it here and now we have to fight to make sure it stays,” said Ald McClure.
Ald Norman Hillis agreed but said it was important council put a strong case together.
“We have to make sure our response is not based on emotion but fact,” he said.
“This is a good start we just need to toughen it up a bit. People like Ald McClure fought to bring the hospital here and we have to do everything we can to make sure it stays.”
Councillors will now meet later this month to finalise their response for the document and they will also be meeting with the Health Minister, Edwin Poots, to put forward their views on the future of health care in the borough.