A £1 million contingency plan for Craigavon Area Hospital has been approved to ensure it could cope if night time emergency services at Daisy Hill are suspended.
The trust has already informed staff at Daisy Hill in Newry that overnight closure might be unavoidable due to staff shortages – and the BBC is now reporting that the Southern Health Trust Board has acted to ensure patients can continue to access high-quality care if medical cover at Daisy Hill cannot be secure for more than one night.
It was understood that the trust is relying heavily on locums medics while a number of permanent positions remain unfilled.
The trust told the BBC that attempts to recruit senior doctors have been unsuccessful.
More than 50,000 people attended Daisy Hill’s emergency department last year
South Down MP Margaret Ritchie said the situation was a “matter of grave disquiet, alarm and concern” for people in her constituency.
Described the situation as an “unacceptable development,” she urged the board not to “betray” patients and staff at Daisy Hill.
“Ultimately this investment will expand Craigavon at the expense of Daisy Hill Hospital,” the SDLP MP said.
Ms Ritchie said the community required “assurances that the trust is committed to a 24/7 emergency department and are not going to be pushed down the road of centralisation of services”.