30/06/2003

Royal selected as central Belfast maternity unit

Health Minister Angela Smith has announced that the Royal Group of Hospitals will be the location of the new centralised maternity unit for Belfast.

Following a prolonged battle between the City and Royal hospitals over where the unit should be located, direct rule Minister Angela Smith said that there could be no further delay on an issue that had been ongoing for nine years.

The decision has followed two consultations, the second of which ended on February 28 this year. Announcing the outcome - reached earlier this month by former Health Minister Des Browne, who was replaced in June as part of the recent cabinet reshuffle - Angela Smith said: “It is clear that there are genuinely and strongly held differences of opinion on the location of the new maternity hospital.

“However, it is equally clear that both Trusts are committed to developing and delivering the best and most sustainable maternity services for women, mothers and babies in the years to come. I look forward to working with both Trusts in moving forward and taking the necessary steps to provide a maternity hospital fit for the 21st century.

Ms Smith added: “I recognise that there will be disappointment among supporters of the Belfast City Hospital. However, within the context of the continuing redevelopment of both the Royal and Belfast City Hospitals, I can assure everyone that the Belfast City Hospital will continue to have a key role to play in the development and delivery of key regional services. Through the significant investment currently underway in the Regional Cancer Centre, and the recent decision to relocate key services such as haematology and dermatology, it will further establish itself at the heart of Northern Ireland’s health care system as a provider of the highest quality local and regional hospital services.”

The Minister said that she had written to the Chair of the Royal Group of Hospitals asking him to "proceed immediately" with the preparation of the necessary business case for the new hospital.

Previous decisions on the location of a centralised Belfast maternity unit, reached by Tony Worthington and Bairbre de Brun, were both defeated by legal actions taken privately.

(SP)

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

19 July 2024
Education Minister Welcomes Progress On New Strule Campus
Education Minister, Paul Givan, has expressed his approval of the Executive's decision to advance the Strule Shared Education Campus project to the contract award and construction phase. The Strule Campus, set to open in September 2028, is a ground-breaking project that will offer a state-of-the-art shared learning centre.
19 July 2024
Infrastructure Minister Experiences Co Down Railway Heritage
Infrastructure Minister, John O'Dowd, has experienced the rich railway heritage from across the island of Ireland during a visit to Downpatrick and County Down Railway. The Downpatrick and County Down Railway is a private charitable organization that operates heritage steam and diesel train services on three miles of track in Downpatrick.
19 July 2024
Alliance Praises Executive's Approval Of Lough Neagh Plan
Alliance DAERA Minister, Andrew Muir, has expressed his gratitude towards the NI Executive for supporting the 37-point Lough Neagh Report and Action Plan. Minister Muir said that the approval is the first step on a journey towards the long-term rehabilitation of water quality in the lough.
19 July 2024
Health Minister Welcomes Social Care Reports
Health Minister, Mike Nesbitt, has welcomed the Social Care Reports and said that reforming adult social care is much more than easing hospital pressures. The Minister commented on the release of the Forum's 2023/24 End of Year Report and 2024/25 Delivery Plan.
28 June 2024
Other News In Brief
Appeal For Information On Bangor Arson Attack The PSNI have issued an appeal for information and witnesses following a suspected arson at a charity shop in Bangor, Co Down, in the early hours of this morning, Friday 28 June. At approximately 4am, police received a report of a fire at the premises in the Market Street area.