Hospital staff ‘fear for their jobs’

STAFF at Lagan Valley Accident and Emergency Department say they fear they are facing an uncertain future amid growing concern about the impact the reduction in opening hours is having on their jobs.

Last month the opening hours at the local A&E were slashed to 9am-8pm and staff are becoming increasingly anxious that this reduction will become permanent, or worse, that the unit will close completely.

According to union representatives, staff at the Lagan Valley Hospital are distraught over the changes to the opening hours and the prospect that jobs could be in jeopardy if the service is not reinstated.

It has also been revealed that local staff are being transported to the Ulster Hospital to ease pressure at the Dundonald hospital, which, like Lagan Valley, is part of the South Eastern Trust.

Despite assurances that working conditions would not change, they say staff who turned up for a shift at 8pm one evening at the Lagan Valley Hospital were informed that a taxi would be outside at 8.30pm to take them to the Ulster.

This has led many to fear that such a move could become permanent or that they could be faced with the stark choice of moving to a hospital many miles away or losing their jobs altogether.

The South Eastern Health Trust has always insisted jobs are not in jeopardy at the Lisburn hospital, however the union says the fear amongst staff is that if the Accident and Emergency Department closes, there will be fewer patients admitted to the wards and accordingly fewer nurses needed to staff the wards.