Protest at Board HQ over future of Causeway Hospital

A protest was held on Friday outside the Northern Trust’s headquarters in Ballymena as a meeting took place to discuss the future of the Causeway Hospital.

Twenty senior citizens travelled to the meeting to hear which proposals the Board were to forward to the Minister of Health on the future of Causeway Hospital and health provision generally in the Northern Board area.

The Chairman of the Trust Board acknowledged that originally it had been intended to make a public announcement of the Board’s health proposals at Friday’s meeting, but that it had been decreed by the Minister of Health that such Board discussions should remain private until a later date.

The Board had met earlier in the morning, in private session, to consider the Compton Report and no information about its decisions was available to the public.

The head of the Trust says they will not be recommending the closure of the Coleraine based hospital’s A&E in the medium term.

But he said there could be problems sustaining both of the trust’s hospitals - the Causeway and Antrim Area - in the longer term.

The Health Minister will announce his decision on the future of health care in Northern Ireland on July 4.

Retired surgeon Dr John Robb was involved in the original plan for the Causeway Hospital - and organised Friday’s protest.

“You are on the slippery slope down the road to losing departments in the hospital and ultimately as we’ve seen in Northern Ireland in a number of places the hospital itself disappears,” he said.

“I think it would be very dangerous [to remove the A&E] because you do have conditions which need to be treated pretty much immediately.”

He added: “I believe in the people’s protest and I believe in the right of people to express their opinion and because of that, I do believe there will be a re-think of the A&E in the Causeway, Coleraine.”

Mike Jones, chairman of the Castlerock Community Association, said the Causeway A&E is particularly important to the elderly community and to parents of young children.

He said for the people of Castlerock, a longer trip to Antrim Hospital by ambulance could be “a matter of life and death.”

“It is unacceptable.”

On Wednesday, July 4 there will be a public meeting in Coleraine Leisure Centre at 7.30 pm, to determine the way forward in any protest about diminution of hospital and health services in our area.