Local TD Gerry Adams has raised concerns about the impact that any reduction in services at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry would have on healthcare provision in Co Louth.
Many people from Dundalk and North Louth use the Newry hospital on a regular basis due to its close proximity.
It is just 23.8km from Dundalk town centre, as opposed to the 35km to Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda.
However, it has emerged this month that Daisy Hill’s Accident and Emergency Department could be set to close despite the fact more than 53,000 people attended it last year.
Commenting on the matter, Sinn Féin president Adams said such a move would jeopardise cross border healthcare and have a “detrimental impact” on the people of Louth.
He said: “The Southern Health and Social Care Trust have stated that the temporary overnight closure of the Emergency Department at Daisy Hill Hospital is being considered due to staffing issues.
“People living in the Newry, South Armagh and Down areas are naturally concerned that if this happens it will be the thin end of the wedge for further closures and diminishment of services at Daisy Hill, which may result in the eventual closure of the hospital.
“In Louth we have witnessed a similar chain of events which has resulted in the closure of the Emergency Department and a host of other services at the Louth County Hospital in Dundalk.
“The corollary of this is a massive increase in demand placed on Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital in Drogheda, where sufficient extra capacity was not introduced. This is now manifest in increased waiting times for in patient and outpatient treatment, huge numbers of people on trollies, long waits for emergency treatment, stress for patients and staff and staff shortages.
“There are a significant number of people from Louth and across all of the border counties who, through the EU funded Cooperation and Working Together (CAWT) project, access treatment at Daisy Hill Hospital.
“Arrangements are in place for cross border ENT, Urology and Vascular treatment as well as Kidney Dialysis and of course the Emergency Department. This is all in jeopardy in the event of service reduction in Daisy Hill and this will place even more of a strain on Our Lady of Lourdes Hospital.
“I have written to the Health Minister Simon Harris to alert him to this situation and I have also written to the Chairperson of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, Roberta Brownlee, to urge a swift resolution to this matter and the full retention of services at Daisy Hill Hospital.”