Sinn Féin’s decision to collapse the Assembly and the political deadlock will only make problems such as the ongoing uncertainty at Daisy Hill Hospital’s accident and emergency department worse.
That is the view of DUP MLA William Irwin, who said it was “absolutely vital” every effort is made to ensure the A&E services at Daisy Hill are maintained.
Mr Irwin made his comments after it emerged that emergency services at the Co Down hospital may have to be temporarily suspended due to a shortage of permanent senior medical staff.
A spokesperson for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust said: “The service currently remains vulnerable to the short notice withdrawal of senior medical cover, particularly during the summer months when there is a less secure supply of locum consultants. Therefore, if there is any risk to patient safety due to lack of senior medical cover at night, the emergency department will temporarily suspend the service until suitable medical cover becomes available.”
The union Nipsa said the emergency department at the Newry hospital is “untenable” because of a chronic shortage of consultants.
Mr Irwin said the ongoing political situation is not helping.
“One glaring and deeply concerning issue is the fact we currently have no health minister in position to deal with these issues,” he said. “The previous minister Michelle O’Neill must have been aware of pressures within the system when she and her colleagues took the decision to collapse the Assembly.
“The continued refusal to form an Executive means issues such as this will only get worse whilst the drift continues. The problems in our health service have a real and direct impact on peoples’ lives and they are being made worse by the fact there is no minister in post to take decisions.”