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Hundreds rally for Dalriada Hospital

By Steven McCauley

More than 700 people have attended a public meeting in Cushendall to call for the Health Minister Jim Wells MLA to intervene and reverse the Northern Health Trust's decision to close the MS unit at Dalriada Hospital.

The Ballycastle facility, providing intermediate and palliative care services throughout the North Coast area, is home to Northern Ireland's only multiple sclerosis respite care centre.

Last night's meeting was the fourth major public gathering since the Northern Trust made the announcement that the unit is to close this month.

Officials maintain the closure is a temporary measure as part of an in-year financial rebalancing programme, but many people believe it is more likely to become permanent.

Dr Dermot Grant of the Glens of Antrim Medical Centre said: "Dalriada Hospital has built up a skilled expertise in providing nursing care and care for patients that is simply second to none and I fear this expertise, which took years to create, will simply be frittered away in the event of a closure.

"For rural communities to survive, it is imperative that present level of services are preserved."

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