COUNCILLORS in Dungannon have voted unanimously in support of a proposal calling on the Health Minister to ensure the Loane House facility for elderly and vulnerable members of the community, is allowed to remain open.
More than 1,000 people within the council area have added their names to a petition demanding that the unit at South Tyrone Hospital is spared from closure.
A public consultation on the future of the Southern Trust operated unit is due to be made in June.
Petitions against any possible closure of the unit have been made available at businesses in Dungannon, Ballygawley, Augher, Eglish and Benburb, with the campaign due to be extended to towns and villages in East Tyrone this week.
On Monday night last, at the monthly meeting of Dungannon Council, the issue was the subject of a notice of motion from Sinn Fein councillor, Deirdre Varsani, who said Loane House was a “much used and vital” service which must be kept open and properly resourced.
Cllr Varsani added: “Tyrone has already lost its ability to provide for babies to be born in the county. It would be an absolute disaster if Tyrone was to lose its ability ti care for the most vulnerable and the elderly within our society.”
It is feared that, if the Loane House facility were to close, patients and their families or carers would be forced to travel as far away as Lurgan and Newry.
The motion received cross party support from within the council chamber, with Independent Republican councillor, Barry Monteith, praising the “extremely dedicated” staff.
“This is another example of services being withdrawn from the Dungannon area” continued Cllr Monteith. “Everything has been sucked out of this town over 30 to 40 years.”
DUP Cllr Roger Burton said the council must “fight hard” to retain the service, while SDLP Cllr Patsy Daly said it was time to “raise our voices in the strongest possible terms” against any potential closure.