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Minister: no money for new hospital

The Health Minister has hit out at a call for him to bring forward plans to build the new Women and Children’s Hospital at the Royal in Belfast.

Stormont health committee member Sue Ramsey said the findings of an inspection of the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children last February have shown the urgent need for the new facility.

A damning report into the service provided by the A&E at the hospital said children were at risk there and blamed inadequate staff numbers and cramped conditions.

Belfast Trust has since employed a locum consultant in the emergency department and has advertised several permanent posts.

But Ms Ramsey said more must be done to address issues raised by the report and said it highlighted the need for a new hospital.

“The campaign which began in the 1990s calling for the a new regional hospital for women and children at the Royal Hospital is now in its 17th year,” said the Sinn Fein MLA.

“As pressure continues to grow on the current facilities and staff, it is another indication of Michael McGimpsey's failure as the man in charge of our health system.”

The planned Women and Children’s Hospital is one of a range of major capital projects in the balance as the health service in Northern Ireland slips into financial crisis.

Mr McGimpsey has identified a number of projects which are at risk, including the radiotherapy centre at Altnagelvin and new ward block at the Ulster Hospital, as being under threat because of cuts to his budget.

And responding to Ms Ramsey’s comments, the minister said while he remains committed to the Women and Children’s Hospital, he does not have enough money to fund the project.

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