The Secretary of State, Karen Bradley’s response to concerns over the future of Breast Clinic Services in Craigavon has been branded ‘scandalous’.
Ulster Unionist Cllr Julie Flaherty slammed Mrs Bradley’s response to Armagh, Banbridge and Craigavon Council’s Notice of Motion voicing concern over the service’s possible closure.
The council had unanimously voted to write to Karen Bradley pointing out the ‘devastating effect’ any closure would have on constituents and calling for it to be retained at Craigavon.
In response the Secretary of State said: “While I am sympathetic to the concerns of patients in the Southern Trust Area, I am also mindful of the wider circumstances that gave rise to the proposal for three concentrated breast assessment service locations. The Chief Medical Officer, Dr Michael McBride, has advised that over the past five years there have only been two months in which the 14-day breast assessment target has been met. This is an unacceptable situation that puts patients across NI at greater risk, and it cannot be allowed to continue.
“As health is a devolved matter, any steps to amend service provision must be taken by the Department of Health. I note that you have also written to Richard Pengelly; I would advise you to present him with detailed evidence of why you feel the consultation process is flawed if you have not already done so,” she said adding that locally elected ministers in the Assembly should be taking the healthcare funding decisions.
Cllr Flaherty was unimpressed and said: “It is clear to me and many others that our health infrastructure is slowly disintegrating and in the end will collapse unless something drastic is done and done now.
“There has been no accountable leadership in the local health service for over two years. Breast cancer patients and those in recovery are continuing now to have to fight for the retention of a local service - will now again be directly impacted by the total abdication of political leadership in Northern Ireland. This is a scandal in our own time.
“The current political situation in this country is a total disgrace and utterly scandalous. I am disgusted,”