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Gerry Adams expresses concern at future of Regional Women and Children’s Hospital

25 May, 2010 - by Pat Sheehan, Westminster

Speaking in advance of Health Minister’s statement on Cuts Gerry Adams expresses concern at future of Regional Women and Children’s Hospital

Sinn Féin west Belfast MP Gerry Adams led a constituency delegation to meet the Health Minister Michael McGimpsey on Monday to discuss the future of the regional Women and Children’s Hospital at the Royal Group of Hospitals.

The delegation included Gerry Adams, MP; Sue Ramsey MLA; Geraldine McAteer, chief executive of the West Belfast Partnership Board; Michael Culbert, Chair of the health sub-group of the WBPB; and Aine McCabe, co-ordinator of Blackie Community Forum.

With the Minister expected to outline cuts to health this afternoon the west Belfast MP expressed his “serious concern that the Department of Health has not given the Women and Children’s Hospital the urgent priority it deserves.

Consequently it could be another 10 years before work commences on this project.”

Mr. Adams said:

“I listened very attentively to the Minister’s explanation for construction of this key health project being put on the back burner.

I am not unsympathetic to the difficulties he faces and the arguments he put in respect of his capital investment budget.

However, these arguments are essentially the same he made two years ago during a debate in the Assembly on the Women and Children’s Hospital.

On that occasion he committed to commencing work on the Women and Children’s Hospital in year 7 of the Comprehensive Spending Review (CSR) with completion by 2017-18.

That objective has now been pushed back even further with this vital regional hospital disappearing off the capital build programme.

This is not acceptable. The fact is that the Minister has had two years to prioritise the Women and Children’s Hospitals within his capital programme.

I accept that there are competing demands on the health budget but the reality is that many sections of the present Children’s Hospital and the Royal Maternity are very old. As a result there are problems with general maintenance and with space for patients and administration.

Demand on the Royal Maternity is increasing.

Despite the skill and commitment of the staff this is placing women and new born babies at unnecessary risk and in buildings and a health system that are growing older.

I intend meeting the Minister again on this issue and to discuss it with others including some in the Executive and interested groups.

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