Derry A and E unit to remain at full capacity

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Health Minister Edwin Poots has pledged that Altnagelvin Hospital’s Accident and Emergency Department is to be maintained at full capacity.

Mr Poots gave an assurance on Derry’s A and E unit to SDLP Health spokesman Mark H Durkan, after announcing controversial proposals which could mean the end of accident and emergency services at Belfast City Hospital.

Speaking following a special sitting of the Assembly’s Health Committee, Mr Durkan told the ‘Journal’ that he hopes the minister will improve services at Altnagelvin’s emergency unit. “With the Minister’s rationalisation of A and E services across the North, and a shortage of junior doctors making units harder to staff, I was naturally concerned about the implications for Derry. The Minister has assured me that A and E at Altnagelvin is in no danger of being reduced. Indeed I drew from him a commitment to look at the staffing of the unit in a bid to improve the service for patients and to relieve the stress on overworked staff.”

Mr Poots said this week that a strategic problem existed across health services, with too many hospitals and not enough junior doctors. The most recent figures show a seven-fold increase in the number of people waiting more than 12 hours for treatment at casualty departments in Northern Ireland.