SDLP MLA for Mid Ulster, Patsy McGlone, has welcomed progress on the development of a new-build mental health facility at the Antrim Area site. In a recent email to the Mid Ulster MLA, the Permanent Secretary for the Department of Health, Richard Pengelly, confirmed that the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) proposal for a mental health facility at the Antrim Area site had been given permission to progress to the design stage. Mr Pengelly also confirmed that the Department is committed to prioritising funding for the project and has allocated funding in the 2019/20 capital budget.
Mr McGlone said, “I welcome confirmation from the Permanent Secretary that the NHSCT proposal for a new-build mental health facility at the Antrim Area Hospital site is to progress to the design stage.
“Over the last number of years, I have been concerned at the deteriorating state of the old building that is currently used for mental health provision at Hollywell. The patient’s environment can be an important element for recovering health, and particularly so when it comes to recovering mental health. I have also lobbied previous Ministers on the urgent need for a new-build facility at the site.
“In December, my colleague John Dallat and I met with Dr Tony Stevens and senior officials at the Northern Trust and discussed the development of a new-build mental health facility at the Antrim site.
“Progress of the project to design stage is subject to the approval of a business case, and I will be pressing the Permanent Secretary for the completion of that necessary work as soon as possible.
“However, Mr Pengelly has also confirmed that the Department is committed to prioritising funding for the project over the coming years and has allocated funding in the 2019/20 capital budget.
“In the absence of a functioning Executive it is imperative that the Department do not delay in the development of this essential part of our health care system.
“The SDLP will continue to press the Department for Health to take the necessary decisions to ensure that our health service is fit for purpose. Those most vulnerable in our society, particularly in rural areas, should not suffer as a result of the dereliction of duty by other parties.”