Union hold emergency meeting to 'Save the Mater'
UNION chiefs have held an emergency meeting to launch a campaign against the downgrading of the Mater hospital in Belfast.
The move followed a decision to close the north Belfast hospital's A&E department to patients brought by ambulance last Friday evening, with paramedics diverted to the Royal Victoria hospital between 6pm and 8am.
Sick children requiring paediatric treatment are also being redirected to the Royal Victoria Hospital for Sick Children.
The Unison trade union branch of the Mater said it "categorically condemned" the development and raised concerns it was a "deliberate attempt" to reduce the hospital's acute services.
Officials at the Belfast health trust say the diversion is linked to a shortage of A&E consultants - an explanation rejected by the union.
"This is unacceptable and we will fight both decisions with all the might of the trade union. The Belfast Trust need to remember who built this great hospital," said Unison's Eoin Stewart.
A protest will take place outside the Mater this Thursday between 11am and 2pm.