Cllr Patrick Clarke said: “I am both appalled and very deeply concerned that the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust have made a further announcement this week of more bed closures at the Downe Hospital in Downpatrick, which is yet another reduction of front line health care services.
“It is clearly not acceptable that the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust can make a decision to close more beds at the Downe Hospital without any consultation with elected representatives and key stakeholders.
“In May, I wrote to the Health Minister Edwin Poots regarding my concern over the previous decision by the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust regarding bed closures at the Downe Hospital but regrettably was not given any satisfactory response that would have given me any confidence that there would not be any further reduction in bed numbers.
“Month after month, the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust have been in the headlines for all the wrong reasons regarding the Downe Hospital from the reduction in 24/7 cover at the Accident and Emergency Unit, to now further reduction in beds, yet no one is being held accountable.
“I firmly believe that they are effectively closing the Downe Hospital by stealth following this bed reduction announcement, which makes me wonder whether they are actually fit for purpose.
“Edwin Poots must act like a Health Minister and demand answers from the decision makers in the Trust. They are chipping away at the current front line health services at the Downe Hospital with no regard for the knock on effects for the local and wider community that the Downe and dedicated medical staff serve and support.
“I have written to the Health Minister again regarding my deep concern at further bed closures at the Downe Hospital and have asked him to challenge the South Eastern Trust on their recent decision and the total lack of consultation with elected representatives and key stakeholders prior to this announcement.”