The people of Coleraine and the surrounding area have not been fooled. At last count, over 17,000 have signed a petition produced by Unison condemning any closure. The North Coast area is already at breaking point due to the effects of job losses and brutal cuts.
There is no doubt that closing the department will cost lives, as well as putting additional strain on the Altnagelvin and Antrim A&E departments. Both departments lie over thirty miles away. People in the Coleraine area will be cut off completely from effective emergency care.
It is likely that Edwin Poots, along with the Northern Trust, will attempt to break any campaign of resistance with a phased closure of services rather than announcing a full closure immediately. Ian Paisley MP, despite claiming to be against the closure, told the House of Commons that the Working Time Directive has caused too many sick days and that this is the reason for closing the department. This is a twisted attempt to divert blame towards the workers, who have been grossly underfunded, underpaid and provide a necessary service.
If Poots and the Northern Trust proceed to downgrade A&E services it is imperative a mass campaign is built involving the trade unions, communities and staff to force them to remove any threat over A&E services at Coleraine Hospital.