Health Minister's Budget for North Antrim a 'disaster'
North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Daithí McKay has slammed the Health Minister Michael McGimpsey for not committing any capital investment for a Health Care Centre in Ballymena. Mr McKay said that this, coupled with Fire Service cutbacks in North Antrim, would have disastrous consequences for the area.
Mr McKay said
"In January 2006 the Northern Health and Social Services Board set out proposals for a major reform of health and social care services over the next 10-15 years including investment in new services and facilities. Part of these proposals included the opening of an integrated Health and Care Centre in Ballymena in 2010 which would support an enhanced range of local community services.
"This project has been identified as a high priority by the Northern Board and Trust and the business case for it was due to be completed in January.
"However the Health Minister has yet to state that the Centre is a high priority for his department and he has not identified the facility even once within his draft budget. North Antrim is a large rural constituency and the failure of the Health Minister to provide adequate services will also have negative consequences for people living in areas such as the Glens and Ballymoney.
"Coming in the wake of the revelation that the Fire Service, which comes under the same Department, will not be able to maintain their level of service, will not be able to replace fire stations in Ballymena, Cushendall and Ballycastle and may even have to remove wholetime firefighters from Ballymena, one can safely say that this draft Health Budget is a disaster for North Antrim.
"I, along with other MLAs for the constituency, will be seeking a meeting with the Minister before Christmas as a matter of urgency. We must ensure that North Antrim is not left behind again when it comes to the provision of health services. The Minister must include the Braid Valley Health and Care Centre in his final budget in January and explain why his Department did not put forward a bid to the Department of Finance and Personnel for this unit." ENDS