High Court tells Trust to remove non-admissions policy at MS unit used by Mid Ulster sufferers

MS Patients Mervyn Hynman from Magherafelt and Francis Hunter, right, from Coleraine leave Dalriada Hospital for the last time
MS Patients Mervyn Hynman from Magherafelt and Francis Hunter, right, from Coleraine leave Dalriada Hospital for the last time

Following our story last week on the closure of the MS respite unit serving sufferers across Mid Ulster, the High Court has ordered the Northern Trust to remove its non-admissions policy on the ward.

Last Thursday’s [Dec 4] ruling, which called into question the legality of the ward’s closure between Nov 30 to March 2015, came as part of a Judicial Review being taken forward by lawyers for one of the unit’s users.

The case is based on the Northern Health and Social Care Trust’s failure to carry out adequate consultation.

In an interview with the Mail, a Magherafelt man who was one of the last patients treated at the MS unit in unit in Dalriada Hospital, said he wants to see the unit re-opened for good.

Mervyn Hynman has been suffering from MS for over 20 years and is now confined to a wheelchair as a result.

He told the Mail that his four visits a year to the unit provided him and his family with the only break they get.

“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,” he said.

“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”.

Dr Réamaí Mathers from ‘Save the Dal’ campaign group said the ruling on the non-admissions policy shows the need for Health Minister Jim Wells to intervene.

“Although today’s ruling is positive, it is extremely regrettable that things have been allowed to progress to this stage.

“For over five weeks we have made it abundantly clear to Health Minister Jim Wells MLA that the entire approach to the closure of Dalriada Hospital is fundamentally flawed, now he is hearing it from the High Court,” he added.

“We once again urge the Minister to immediately intervene and work with the local community and health professionals to ensure that Dalriada Hospital continues to play a vital role in the provision of health care for patients throughout the entire Northern Trust.”

Coronation street stars, have also appeared on Facebook asking people to sign a petition urging Health Minister Jim Wells to #SaveTheDal.