Hospital Green Light

By Mark McKelvey – Ulster Herald

Hospital staff, politicians and health campaigners in Omagh are celebrating the news that funding for a new £190 million enhanced hospital has officially been granted. The development will be located on a 100 acre site on grounds of the Tyrone and Fermanagh Hospital approximately 1.5 miles from the town centre.

The Omagh Area Hospital Complex is expected to be completed within 48 months of full business case and funding approval. The additional enabling works on the new hospital site are expected to commence within the next four to six months. The business case for the hospital includes a 90 bedded facility and a wide range of services such as urgent care and treatment services, intermediate care, cardiac assessment, renal services and day case surgery, palliative care, imaging and diagnostics, general outpatients, clinical investigations, children’s centre, women’s health unit, allied health services, GP out of hours, pharmacy, social services, medical records and mental health services. The proposals also incorporate a new health and social care centre and will have a wide range of services including primary and community care services, GP surgeries and supported accommodation practice accommodation, community mental health, elderly services, and other support and community facilities.

This essential hospital development was scheduled to commence construction last year, but was thrown into doubt due to heavy budget cuts, with fears resonating in the local area that it may never happen at all. To the great relief of many, Health Minister Michael McGimpsey, revealed this good news for the people of West Tyrone in the Assembly on Wednesday morning when making a statement on his capital priorities for the next four years.

The minister made reference to the difficult decisions he had prioritising what projects to proceed with and which had to be postponed due to lack of available funding. Mr McGimpsey said “This was no easy task but when health is continually starved of the funding it needs, then very difficult decisions have to be made. Decisions over whether to fund care for elderly people in their homes, or cut thousands of job or increase waiting times or build a new hospital. “These are choices which have to be made because the health and social care service is broke. These are choices which can only cause pain and anxiety to the public.”

Western Trust chairman Gerard Guckian and chief executive Elaine Way both expressed their delight at this announcement and how when completed will improve the delivery of health and social care in the western area. Mr Guckian said, “For many years the staff in the Tyrone County Hospital have provided high quality care in less than ideal accommodation. We now look forward to that same standard of care being delivered in modern facilities built and equipped for the 21st Century. ” Ms Way continued, “This scheme will help to deliver a wide range of health and social care services on one site enabling integrated working among health professionals with linkages to regional and national healthcare networks.”

Loraine Griffin, President of Omagh Chamber of Commerce says, “Omagh Chamber of Commerce & Industry welcomes the Health Minister McGimpsey’s announcement that, subject to normal business case processes, construction can start on the new enhanced local hospital at Omagh which is seen by the Minister as a high priority scheme.” We welcome all new investment in terms of infrastructure and job creation to this area particularly in times of cut backs and recession.”