The decision to close the City Hospital A&E is a major attack on ordinary people and hospital staff – not just in the City Hospital or South Belfast but throughout the greater Belfast area.
It is clear the Assembly Executive plans to go further and eventually wind down A&E services at the Mater. Together with the closure of Whiteabbey A&E last year and the cut in opening hours at Lagan Valley Hospital A&E, these cuts will lead to enormous pressure on the Royal Victoria Hospital and the Mater which will be unable to cope with the massive demand.
The politicians may promise extra staff at the RVH and Mater to deal with the closure of the City A&E, but they cannot be trusted.
The people of Mid-Ulster were promised that appropiate levels of staff would be provided at Antrim Hospital after the Assembly closed down Mid-Ulster Hospital A&E.
But Antrim Hospital is a disaster zone – there is nowhere near enough staff to deal with the hike in patients requiring accident and emergency treatment.
CUTS ARE TO BLAME!
The argument from Stormont that the reason why A&E’s need to be closed is because of a lack of staff is a red herring! The last Assembly executive carried out £805 million cuts from the health service.
Thousands of jobs were cut. The Assembly Executive ordered a recruitment freeze which has meant in the past year alone 2,000 jobs have been cut from the NHS in Northern Ireland!
The reason for the closure of the City A&E is due to the cuts which the Assembly voted for in March. £2.5 billion is due to be cut from the health service over the coming four years.
We cannot afford to let the City A&E close even “temporarily”. If the A&E unit closes, the Assembly Executive will seek to keep it closed.
Build a mass campaign across Belfast
The closure of City A&E will lead to overcrowding and longer waiting times across Belfast. The Stop the Cuts Campaign needs to build opposition throughout the greater Belfast area – linking up and fighting in common with people in Lisburn against cuts at Lagan Valley hospital.
Every MLA and councilor belonging to the parties in the Assembly Executive must come under an avalanche of pressure in local communities. We must make the politicians aware that they cannot hide behind unelected medical “professionals” or the Trust. The politicians in the Assembly Executive are responsible for this closure. Both the DUP and Sinn Fein have a veto which could prevent the closure of the A&E. If they are opposed to the closure of the A&E at City Hospital – they should be told to veto the decision at the Assembly Executive.
Unions must act
It is urgent that the trade unions organising workers in the Belfast Trust immediately announce protest action and plan for industrial action. In the past health workers have taken strike action while providing core essential services which had major support from local communities.
The wider trade union movement must also mobilise for a major demonstration outside Stormont demanding a halt to the closure of the City A&E.
If organised, we can stop the closure
The We Won’t Pay Campaign against water charges proved that when ordinary people organise and challenge the politicians, it is possible to force them back. Water charges were defeated and the threat to close the City A&E can also be defeated.
The Stop the Cuts Campaign needs to built in every local community. Pressure from every community can force the Assembly into retreating on this issue. Make sure to join the Stop the Cuts Campaign today, take campaign material with you to take back to your street and tell your neighbours to contact local councilors and MLA’s to tell them not to close our A&E.