Edwin Poots urged to act over 'disgraceful' state of mental health hospital
The Health Minister has been urged to intervene over the shocking state of one of Northern Ireland’s top mental health facilities.
Plaster is falling from the ceilings and rotting paintwork is peeling off the walls in the main building of Holywell Hospital in Antrim.
Concerns over the facility’s condition were first reported by the Belfast Telegraph earlier this year — but four months on, there is little sign of improvement.
SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone, who has been campaigning for improvements at the hospital, said he was appalled by its state during a visit.
“I think a hospital for people who suffer from mental health problems deserves so much better than this,” he said.
“It really is disgraceful. The Northern Trust should be ashamed of itself.”
This newspaper reported in April how the main building of the hospital, which can cater for 200 patients, had fallen into serious disrepair.
Photographs we obtained showed rotting windowsills, cracked ceilings and plasterwork peeling away. Yet when Mr McGlone visited the site on Friday, he found conditions had not improved.
Mops were strewn on the floor to soak up dampness, huge cracks had appeared in the plasterwork, while a yard was overgrown with shrubbery and strewn with litter. One window was nearly blocked up by sprawling weeds.
Mr McGlone said the conditions were not acceptable.
“I raised this matter four months ago and some of the repairs are so simple that they could have been done in an hour or two,” he said.
Mr McGlone questioned if the Northern Trust had taken his concerns seriously, and said he had requested a meeting with Health Minister Edwin Poots on the matter.
“It is shameful that, nearly four months on, nothing has been done,” he added.
“We all know the environment is crucial when people go into hospital.”
A spokesman for the Northern Trust insisted staff had worked hard to ensure conditions were “suitable”.
“The main hospital building is more that 100 years old and difficult to maintain,” he said.
“The patient areas, however, are modern and well maintained and the patient experience is good and the quality of care in Holywell Hospital is excellent.
“Over the last four years the Northern Trust has spent £2.5m on construction and maintenance work at Holywell and there are plans to spend a further £1m this year on refurbishment projects.
“We are currently developing a business plan to build a new inpatient psychiatric unit on the site at Holywell,” he added.
A meeting took place between the trust and Mr McGlone in April, where reassurances were provided about improving facilities in the long-term.
Holywell Hospital has nearly 200 beds and provides a range of mental health services. It is divided into two main units. The addictions unit, continuing care, challenging behaviour, rehabilitation and intensive care beds are in the main building, while acute admission and dementia assessment are housed in detached buildings.