East Antrim Ulster Unionist Party MLA, Roy Beggs expressed concern that the Northern Health and Social Care Trust (NHSCT) has only received 10% of capital spending by Health Trust over the last 5 years, despite having 25% of the population of Northern Ireland.
Roy Beggs MLA said “I have been concerned at the under investment in local Health Facilities for some time and contacted the Health Department’s Permanent Secretary seeking details of capital spending provided to each Trust area in Northern Ireland. Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey do not have A&E units or a Minor Injuries Unit. Nor do we have modern Health and Well-being facilities. There is a need for investment to modernise many of our GP surgeries and Allied Health facilities so that more primary health care services can be provided locally, but we have received less than half the investment we could reasonably expect to receive.”
Modern Health and Wellbeing centres have been developed in Ballymena and the Grove in North Belfast along with many other parts of NI but none within the East Antrim Constituency to date.
Roy Beggs added, “Departmental figures show that the Northern HSC Trust, with 25.41% of the NI population but has received only 10% of the capital funding allocated to Health Trusts over the past 5 years. Why has the Northern Trust area and in particular, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey not received our fair share of capital funding? Capital Investment is needed to modernise our General Practise facilities and explore providing modern health and wellbeing centres in Carrickfergus, Larne & Newtownabbey. Indeed Holywell Hospital also needs replaced. Local patients are being disadvantaged as ageing facilities and under investment is inhibiting local health staff in caring for patients.”
The Belfast Trust received 21% of the overall capital investment in the last 5 years, with a 19.04% population share. The South Eastern Trust received 23% investment with 19.16% population share. The Southern Trust had 14% investment with 20.26% of the NI population in the area. The Western Trust received 33% capital investment in the last 5 years for 16.13% of our total population.
Mr Beggs concluded, “NHSCT serves almost half a million residents, and is the largest Trust area by population, but is has received the least amount of capital investment over the past 5 years. Yet most of our primary care facilities are crying out for investment.”
“I am aware of the cramped conditions that GP’s operate in from the Taylors Avenue Northern HSCT site, in Carrickfergus. This ageing building is no longer fit for purpose to meet the needs of the population, which has more than doubled since it was built in the 1960′. I have also recently visited Larne Health Centre at Gloucester Road and staff have highlighted that it too also is no longer fit for purpose. In addition, important diagnostic equipment such as x-ray equipment is no longer available at the Moyle Hospital in Larne. Inadequate primary care facilities is adding to pressures to A&E at Antrim as patients seek medical diagnosis of their condition. I am pressing for Health investment to improve services for local patients”
“It is time that East Antrim and the Northern Health & Social Care Trust got its fair share of capital investment. I have written to the Permanent Secretary for Health, pointing out the disparity in Health investment and the need for modern Health and Well serving Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey so that GP’s and Allied Health professionals can provide a wider range of primary care services conveniently for patients.”