Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has announced plans to invest £117m over the next three years to improve health and social care services and facilities in the South Eastern Trust area.
As part of the funding, new health and care centres in Bangor and Ards will be introduced.
The money is part of a total planned investment of over £417m in capital over the next 10 years for health and social care in the trust area.
New developments and an upgrade of existing services will take place across a range of primary, secondary and community care areas to bring about major improvements in services to the public.
Speaking during a visit to the newly built £1.6m Ashgrove Intensive Support Unit at Ards Hospital, which provides support to young people who have been diagnosed with behavioural problems, Mr McGimpsey said: “I will continue to invest funds where improved health and social care services are needed for the people of Northern Ireland.
“This new purpose built, specialist unit is an excellent example of how investment can make a real difference in individuals’ lives.
“It will improve the quality of life, health and well-being of young people with behavioural problems.
“They will have access to psychological and psychiatric services in a setting that is acceptable to both them and their families, and this will provide them with the opportunity for healing, growth and development.”
Commenting on the planned 10 year investment for the trust, the minister said: “My announcement of £417.4m for the South Eastern Trust over the next 10 years is another example of how I am investing in our health and social care services.
“This investment will include £190m to develop services at the Ulster Hospital.
“The funding will provide new ward accommodation, based on 100 percent single rooms, an Accident & Emergency department, imaging department, mortuary, a coronary care unit, pharmacy, a new entrance block and central support functions.
“Funding will also be provided for new Health and Care Centres in Bangor, Ards and Dunmurry.
“This is an exciting new development for these three areas and is an important part of my vision for the future of healthcare services here.
“Health and Care Centres adopt a ‘one stop shop’ person-centred approach to healthcare, which aims to meet the needs of individual families in their local communities.
“This is just one of the many ways in which our health service is changing, by reducing the dependency on hospitals and instead maximising the provision of health and care services in the community.
“They are locally accessible and will provide integrated services including treatment, care and information, and some diagnostic services currently only provided in acute care.”
Despite this investment, a number of care homes have been earmarked for closure in the trust area.
Ravara House in Bangor and Loch Cuan House in Newtownards face closure through a lack of patients and a modernisation of this type of care which involves many elderly people.
North Down councillor Peter Weir said he was “shocked and appalled” at the news.
“This decision is not finalised and I urge the trust even at this late hour to draw back from the brink,” Mr Weir said.
“I am seeking an urgent meeting with representatives of the trust to appeal to them to think again.”