‘Two years too late’ - New A&E given cautious welcome

A NEW state-of-the-art Accident and Emergency Department set to open at Antrim Hospital next year is “two years too late” according to a local MLA.

SDLP Assemblyman Patsy McGlone gave a cautious welcome to news that the emergency department on the Antrim site is on track but said that the investment still does not address the current situation in Mid-Ulster.

Although welcoming the future facilities, Mr McGlone described the unveiling of a special A&E ‘mock up room’ earlier this month as a ‘PR exercise’.

At the start of the month, Health committee members got a glimpse of what the new emergency care facility will look like when the visited the specially equipped room.

The new unit will allow clinicians, nurses, domestic services, infection control officers and allied health professionals to get an accurate view of the size and layout of the proposed bedrooms

Mr McGlone said that although the news was welcome it would not alleviate current pressure on hospital staff as emergency care around Mid-Ulster continues to be under considerable strain.

“The proposed new Emergency Department at Antrim Area Hospital will certainly be a welcome improvement to the facilities currently available. It ticks all the boxes required of a modern state-of-the-art emergency department.

“But it is at least two years too late,” said Mr McGlone.

“This is the sort of investment at Antrim that the Trust and the Minister assured everyone would be made before Accident and Emergency units at other hospitals, like the Mid Ulster at Magherafelt, were closed.

“Instead it has taken a very public crisis to develop at Antrim before the required investment is to be made.”

“What this investment doesn’t do is address the current situation,” he added.

Mr McGlone continued: “The pressure on front line staff at Antrim Area Hospital will not be alleviated now by the proposed opening of a new Emergency Department a year down the line.

“The failings of senior management revealed in the recent reports on the problems at Antrim will not be resolved by this either.

“There remain very serious concerns about the situation that was allowed to develop at Antrim. Those concerns have not been addressed by this PR exercise.”

Mr McGlone said he would continue to press Health Minister Edwin Poots on current action being taken to address the negative impact on public confidence in our health service the situation at Antrim has had.