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.


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