31/07/2001

Ulster Hospital gets £100 million cash boost

The Ulster Hospital is set to receive a huge cash boost of nearly £100 million as part of a major refurbishment programme.

Health, Social Services and Public Safety Minister, Bairbre de Brún announced the plans on Tuesday July 31. The development, which is expected to cost in the region of £98 million phased over seven years, is the first major investment at the hospital since it was built in 1962.

Ms de Brún said there had been a history of under-investment at the hospital, and said: “The time is right to embark on a comprehensive modernisation programme in line with the current schemes at Altnagelvin and the Royal Victoria Hospitals. The Strategic Development Plan submitted by the Trust sets out an ambitious programme which I am happy to endorse as the agenda for the redevelopment.”

The Ulster Hospital, now approaching its 40th year of operation, requires modernisation to meet current standards. It provides acute services to a population of around 250,000. One of four designated Cancer Units in Northern Ireland, it requires additional bed capacity, outpatient facilities and imaging equipment to enhance priority services.

The refurbishment programme will also address the need to increase the capacity of the Accident & Emergency Department, create a High Dependency Unit and upgrade the existing Maternity Department and Theatre Blocks.

The Minister explained that the Plan was in four phases. The initial phase, addressing deficiencies in critical medical equipment and costing £1.5m has already been implemented. Phase II, totalling £28m, addressing critical problems of capacity and continuity of service has now been approved by the minister.

A total of £10 million of Executive Programme Funds has so far been earmarked for Phase II. Phases III and IV of the refurbishment programme will include extension and upgrading of the A&E Unit and Outpatient facilities and substantial remedial work to the structure of the hospital. (AMcE)

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