27/11/2009

Belfast Military Wards To Close

The closure of a military hospital unit in Northern Ireland has been announced in Westminster.

The news came as the Junior Defence Minister Kevan Jones said the Duke of Connaught Military Hospital facility, based at Musgrave Park Hospital, south Belfast, would shut by April next year.

In a Commons written statement, Mr Jones said a commercial contract with an independent service provider represented the "most effective and efficient" means of providing secondary healthcare for regular military personnel.

The move comes after a review of the number of military bases in Northern Ireland as part of the Peace Process, he explained.

Playwright, Graham Reed immortalised the facility in his six-part drama series for the BBC, Ties of Blood, in the episode, 'Military Wing' in 1985, which was directed by James Ormerod. Although filmed in the NHS's Whiteabbey Hospital, it was loosely based on Musgrave Park's military facility.
News Image
However, in advance of the Duke of Connaught Unit replacing the Royal Army Medical Corps (RAMC) wards during the defence cuts of the 1990s - there was much more bloody real-life drama when an IRA bomb killed two soldiers.

On 2 November 1991, the unit was busier than normal because some off duty staff were watching the Rugby World Cup Final on TV that afternoon.

The blast killed one member of the RAMC, Warrant Officer Philip Arthur Cross and one member of the Royal Corps of Transport, Craig Pantry.

It also injured nine members of the Army Medical Services as well as a five-year-old girl and a four-month-old baby.

The bomb - containing 20lb of Semtex - exploded in a service tunnel that connected the Withers block to the RAMC Ward.

That block housed the childrens' and the orthopaedic wards.

Meanwhile, the last floating survivor of a pivotal First World War sea battle will be decommissioned by the end of the year.

The Royal Navy has confirmed that its training ship, HMS Caroline, which has been moored in Belfast since 1924, needs around £3.5 million worth of refurbishment, which it cannot afford.

The Royal Naval Volunteer Reserve is moving to Thiepval Barracks in Lisburn in 2010 with the vessel's future now uncertain.

(BMcC/KMcA)

Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

18 July 2019
NIFRS Record 40% Drop In Bonfire Incidents
The Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service has recorded the lowest number of bonfire related incidents in the past four years. Figures released pertaining to callouts on Thursday 11 July, as the loyalist community celebrated by lighting pyres across the country, show a 40% fall in incidents when compared with 2018.
26 June 2018
Man Attacked In North Belfast
A man has been attacked in north Belfast. The incident happened at a property in the Crumlin Road area at around 11.40pm on Monday, 25 June. A masked man threatened the victim with a handgun and punched him several times. The suspect then made off. The man did not require hospital treatment.
19 July 2019
NI Ambulance Service Recruiting Helicopter Paramedics
Northern Ireland Ambulance Service is recruiting for new helicopter paramedics to be based at the Air Ambulance base at Maze Long Kesh in Lisburn and Emergency Ambulance Control at NIAS HQ in Belfast. Successful candidates will join the Helicopter Emergency Medical Service (HEMS) team which is made up of 15 doctors and seven paramedics.
16 October 2012
Hygiene Testing Failed For Five NI Hospitals
Eleven wards in total in five hospitals have required a further inspection into Hygiene and infection by the Regulation and Quality improvement Authority. The five hospitals involved were The Royal Victoria and City Hospital which are both located in Belfast. The Ulster in Dundonald, The Altnagelvin in Derry and the Craigavon Area Hospital.
17 July 2019
Record Breaking Crowds Attend The Open
The amount of people flocking to Royal Portrush to witness golfing history at The 148th Open this week has set a new attendance record for a Championship staged outside St Andrews. Practice days alone have pulled in 61,000 fans, surpassing the previous high of 52,000 set at Hoylake in 2006.