§ Sir Nigel Fisher
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland how many hospitals have had to close their casualty departments; and for what reasons; and what plans he has to alleviate the pressure on hospitals in Northern Ireland at the present time.
§ Mr. Carter
This year two hospitals, Daisy Hill at Newry and Massereene at Antrim, have had to close their accident and emergency departments, but the former was reopened within two months.
Many of the smaller hospitals in Northern Ireland have great difficulty in attracting medical staff, because the training bodies cannot approve them for training purposes. This is the principal reason why accident and emergency departments have had to close from time to time.
The remedy is to concentrate services for major accidents and emergencies in hospitals which have adequate staff and back-up facilities, and to provide services for minor casualties chiefly at health centres. The speed at which this transition can take place depends mainly on the availability of resources.