20/12/2001

Essential local hospital improvements now possible

Minister for Health and Social Services and Public Safety, Bairbre de Brún has announced that essential equipment in a number of local hospitals will be upgraded or replaced.

The Minister unveiled a range of investments for improvements in hospital services and equipment totalling some £4.5 million.

"As part of the Budget settlement an additional £8 million is available to me to begin to address the chronic problems we are facing across the spectrum of health and social care" the Minister said.

"The funds which I am releasing today will enable us to tackle critical pressures, particularly in upgrading hospital sterilising facilities and beginning to tackle the backlog in equipment replacement."

Of the £4.5 million, £650,000 will be targeted on improving sterile services departments in a number of local hospitals. It will also enable investment of £500,000 in key surgical instruments at the Royal Victoria Hospital. "These measures are critical to our programme to ensure the appropriate decontamination standards for reusable medical devices," explained the Minister.

Some £3.4 million will be directed towards an urgent programme of replacement hospital equipment across the HPSS. This will include: breast screening equipment at the Belfast City Hospital; ultrasound machines at the Mater and Antrim Hospitals; fluoroscopy equipment at the Downe Hospital; cardiac monitoring and ultrasound equipment at Craigavon Hospital; and cardiology equipment at the Royal Victoria Hospital.

In addition the Belfast City Hospital and United Hospitals Group will receive £1.4 million for investment in basic medical equipment.

The Minister added: "This additional investment is welcome, but it is clear that the backlog of investment which I have inherited will only be remedied by a long term programme of sustained investment in the infrastructure of the Health & Personal Social Services." (SP)

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