A Magherafelt man who was one of the last patients treated at Dalriada Hospital’s MS unit is calling for the Health Minister to re-open its beds.
Mervyn Hynman, who has been suffering from MS for over 20 years and is now confined to a wheelchair as a result, told the Mail his four visits a year to the unit provided him and his family with the only break they get.
And although alternatives had been offered in the wake of the closure, he said they don’t come close to the MS respite unit that has now been taken away.
“I go there four times a year for two weeks every time,” he said. “I enjoy it there - I know it’s a hospital, but it’s not a hospital for us.
“My wife arranges her holidays around that so that she can have a bit of peace and quiet [and] it lets me get away to meet all my friends.
“We go out round the town of Ballycastle every time we go there and have a good time to ourselves and sort of forget about MS,” he added.
“It was the only place in the north that is available for MS respite - there’s just nowhere else - we had all the facilities at the hospital.”
After his respite visits to Dalriada, Mervyn said “you come home refreshed” but “back to the normal hum-drum sitting about in a wheelchair all the time”.
Not impressed with the Trust’s substitutes, he added: “They have offered us two options of places to go that are basically old people’s homes - which is not going to be the same at all. I’m upset as there is basically nowhere to go now.”
And Mervyn is not the only voice calling for the unit to be re-opened.
Coronation street stars, last week appeared on Facebook asking people to sign a petition urging Health Minister Jim Wells to #SaveTheDal, as the minister announced “eight weeks public consultation on this temporary closure”.
Meanwhile the High Court heard how wards at Dalriada may never re-open if the closure plans, described by some solicitors as “unlawful”, are not halted.