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Ford concerned at winter beds measures

October 23, 2000 12:00 AM

South Antrim Assembly member David Ford has expressed his concern that not enough has been done to prevent a winter beds crisis again this year.

Speaking during Question Time in the Assembly earlier today (Monday), Mr Ford asked the Health Minister what provisions had been put in place to avert a winter bed crisis in acute hospitals.

Mr Ford said:

"I am very concerned that we are already in a crisis and that funding to deal with the annual winter pressures actually gets to the hospitals in time."

"I believe that acute hospitals are under extreme pressure, and this has been apparent for many years. United Hospitals Trust in my own constituency has had a proposal for 20 additional medial beds in Antrim Hospital for the last 18 months, on which no action has been taken."

"Yet another crisis is inevitable unless funding from the department gets to where it is needed as quickly as possible."

"The Minister (Bairbre de Brun) told me today that co-ordinated plans were now in place, albeit somewhat belatedly, to deal with a upsurge in admissions and that extra beds would be available this winter."

"I will continue to follow up the details of her answer to see what we can expect across Northern Ireland. Whether this will be enough to avert what has been a disaster in recent times remains to be seen. Patients can only hope that it is not too little, too late."

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