SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone has said that patients of the Holywell acute mental health hospital are receiving care in facilities that are not fit for purpose.
Mr McGlone was speaking after attending a meeting with the Health Minister alongside party colleagues Councillor Kate Lagan and local representative Maria Cleary-McGuffin.
He said: “I have visited Holywell hospital along with my party colleagues and we have been hugely impressed by the excellent care being delivered to those who find themselves in acute mental health related distress.
“The hospital staff are doing a fantastic job in some very difficult circumstances.
“Unfortunately the physical structures surrounding patients, their families and staff is a hark back to Victorian era facilities.
“This is an unacceptable situation and we called a meeting with the Health Minister immediately to bring our concerns to his attention.
“I am pleased that the Minister has indicated that a new build at Holywell is a priority for him and that a strategic business case for the development has been made.
“It now falls to the Northern Trust to ensure that a business plan is formulated that will push this issue forward.
“The Minister has further advised that his department expect this to be submitted early in the New Year.
“We will continue to place pressure on the Minister, his Department and the Northern Trust to ensure that those who find themselves in deep distress are afforded care in an appropriate and modern environment.”
“It has long been agreed that the Holywell site is not fit for purpose.
“It is imperative that the Minister and Northern Trust now act to bring this unit into the 21st Century and ensure that some of the most vulnerable members of our society are cared for in facilities that match the high standards delivered by staff at the hospital,” said Magherafelt Councillor Kate Lagan.
The Northern Health Trust said it welcomed Mr McGlone’s comments on the quality of care and commitment of staff at Holywell hospital.
“Since 2008 over £3.8 million has been spent on capital works which have focused on the patient and service delivery areas within the Holywell complex.
“However, maintenance aspects of the older elements of the estate remain challenging,” said a spokesperson.
“The provision of a new purpose built facility, to replace the current estate, is a priority for the Trust.
“To that end we completed a Strategic Outline Case for a new Mental Health Inpatient Unit which has been approved by the Department of Health.
“We are now completing a detailed Outline Business Case which will be submitted to the Department of Health in the new year in order to secure the necessary capital funding.”