12/11/2008

Ministerial Challenge Issued On Omagh's Hospital Plan

A new £190 million hospital planned for Omagh can only be built when it has the full support of the local council and community.

Northern Ireland Health Minister Michael McGimpsey said yesterday he would only build the new facility if local people wanted it, and particularly emphasised that he has many other competing demands and a limited capital budget.

Following a meeting with Omagh District Council on Tuesday, the Minister said the new hospital was a fantastic development for the local area and should be welcomed by everyone - bringing huge investment and creating many new jobs.

"I am planning to build a £190 million local enhanced hospital in Omagh which will meet 70 to 80% of all the local community's health and social care needs.

"It will also have a major mental health facility, a health and care centre, a 24/7 Urgent Care and Treatment Centre and will be the only local hospital in Northern Ireland to carry out renal dialysis.
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"This is probably the largest investment ever in Omagh," he said, also noting that it will support hundreds of jobs in the local area, not just in the health service but also in the construction industry.

He insisted that it will provide a massive boost for the local economy, but cautioned: "The 'Developing Better Services' debate will not be reopened. That argument has long passed – the acute hospital is in Enniskillen and that will not change.

"It is time to move forward, and for the council and all the people of Omagh to grasp this opportunity with both hands," he said, referring to continued disquiet on the earlier decision to locate the overall area's new-build acute hospital in Co Fermanagh, the opposite of the location that was wanted by the Tyrone town.

The Minister asked the Omagh Council delegation to respond to him as soon as possible and confirm their commitment to the new hospital.

He also asked them to join a liaison group to work with representatives of the Western Trust to help shape the services which will be provided in the new hospital.

He continued: "I want the council to help us plan and deliver the new hospital. They have been elected by the local community to speak on their behalf," he challenged.

(BMcC)

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