Andrew Muir MLA and Paula Bradshaw MLA were speaking after a public meeting on the proposed enhancements. North Down MLA Mr Muir said it was clear the proposals will improve provision for people in the Bangor and Newtownards areas.
“This will provide a newly integrated service, providing comprehensive diagnosis and treatment linked into the rest of the health system,” he said.
“It is frankly bizarre to hear people talking of how quickly the current minor injury units operate, when the truth is they do not operate at weekends at all, nor are they fully equipped and staffed to deal with all areas of urgent care.
“The new centre at Dundonald will be separate from the Ulster Hospital but will share equipment with it, enabling rapid diagnosis and treatment in a way simply not possible currently. It will also operate seven days a week, integrating with out-of-hours provision to ensure full-time service, unlike the current service.
“It is for others to explain why they are rejecting expanded and enhanced health provision to the people of Ards and North Down.”
Alliance Health spokesperson Ms Bradshaw said the proposal would reduce the pressure on the emergency department at the Ulster Hospital considerably.
“It will ensure those attending for urgent but not emergency cases – such as sprains or rashes – can be diverted immediately to the urgent care centre. This will free up the emergency department to deal specifically with emergency – life-threatening or life-changing – cases.
“We have been warned by review after review the focus must be on the quality of care, not on the location. People in the Ards and North Down areas will be much better served – both for urgent and emergency care – by this reform.
“It is estimated 70 per cent of those arriving at the Emergency Department in fact require urgent care. That demonstrates just how much the pressure will be reduced. After the scenes we saw in the run-up to Christmas, it is clear that the choice ahead of us is change or collapse. It is for others to explain why they would not wish to reduce pressure on the Emergency Department and on the staff working in it.”