Bangor Community Hospital ward closure discussed at meeting
About 100 people have attended a public meeting about the proposed closure of a hospital ward in County Down.
A public consultation is under way about whether to permanently close the 20-bed unit at Bangor Community Hospital.
South Eastern Health Trust management answered questions about people's concerns in Bangor on Tuesday.
Former ward sister Ruth Tomlinson said it provides a vital community role, and its closure would be "devastating".
"I appreciate the pressures that they're under financially, but I feel it's a kneejerk reaction," she said.
"This is the third time that Bangor Hospital has been closed and reopened, and it costs a lot of money when it's not operational."
The GP ward closed temporarily last October, as part of wider budget cuts within the health service.
One of the ward's users issued judicial review proceedings in an attempt to have the move reversed.
Last month, a High Court judge ruled this closure was unlawful, as no public consultation had been carried out.
However, with the South-Eastern Health Trust's consultation process now under way, he did not order it to be reopened.
A series of public meetings are being held in north Down during the process, which runs until 29 April.