UNISON Northern Ireland


UNISON, the largest union in the health and social care system, has grave concerns  over the South Eastern Trust’s recent decision to open a consultant-led Urgent Care Centre at the Downe Hospital as opposed to their previous commitment to re-open the Downe Hospital Emergency Department on 19th October.

UNISON Branch Secretary in Downpatrick, Marion Ritchie, said: “Our members are shocked that the Trust appears to have abandoned its promise to restore the Downe Emergency Department (ED)D on 19th October, opting instead for an appointment only ‘Urgent care centre’. Again the Trust has shown scant regard for both the staff & the local population by leaving the people of Co. Down without any ED. While they have received well deserved praise from the public over the past six months as to the way they have worked and continue to work in the Downe Hospital and elsewhere when they have been temporarily relocated.  they now feel unsupported by their Trust. We have been campaigning for several years to protect the Emergency Department and other services at the Downe. They are much in demand for the local population of Downpatrick and beyond -   It is our local and vital hospital and we need a full ED for the people of County Down.”

UNISON Regional Organiser Nuala Conlon added: “The Covid-19 crisis has highlighted the importance the public place on our NHS, their staff and their local hospitals and services.  Although the weekly Clap for Carers has ended long ago, the general public are continuing to show their support for our frontline health workers, both in the NHS and the private care sector. And UNISON are still awaiting for a response from the UK government regarding our recent pay claim for our members working in the NHS - replace clapping with money in the wages."

The Trade Union Chair of the South Eastern Trust, James Large, stated: “UNISON are very alarmed at this latest setback. We are demanding an urgent meeting with the South Eastern Trust to raise our concerns and to seek an explanation as to why they have decided to make this move.  UNISON stands opposed to such reconfiguration of services without proper full engagement with the workforce and their Trade Unions as well as full consultation with all stakeholders and the general public. We have repeatedly been promised that the future of the health service will be co-produced and co-designed with the workforce and we expect to see that promise delivered.”