Vows sought over Tyrone hospital funding
The Health Minister has been asked to give a commitment on the future of services in Co Tyrone as he announced plans for the new local hospital in Omagh.
Edwin Poots has approved funding worth £75m for the first phase of the new facility that will include a health centre, extra beds, renal dialysis unit and supplies department.
Construction is expected to start in 2013 and this part of the building is expected to be completed in 2016.
A business case is being developed for the second phase of the building, which will include day case surgery, palliative care, GP out-of-hours and mental health services.
However, it is not known when this will be ready to send to the Department of Finance and Personnel for approval,
West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff said: "I would like to see further clarification around the completion of the £190m project, and crucially a commitment from Minister Poots about the range and profile of services which will be provided in the new hospital.
"People in Omagh and throughout Tyrone have campaigned hard for essential health services.
"We are told that the new local enhanced hospital in Omagh will be part of a wider network of services, including Altnagelvin and the new acute hospital in Enniskillen.
"I am seeking further assurances about the future status of the urgent care and treatment centre in Omagh and I would like to see a plan for the future which will provide the services to meet the requirements of the local community.
"The Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh has many strengths and currently provides essential services.
"I would like to see these services built upon in the future, and certainly no reduction in services when these are transferred across to the new hospital."
Mr Poots announced the investment during a visit to meet staff and patients at Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh yesterday.
"It is great news for the local community that the first phase of this new facility is well and truly on the way," he said.
"It is particularly pleasing to progress an enhanced local hospital and the health and care centre element of this project which will provide first-class accommodation for local delivery of services."
Western Health and Social Care Trust chairman Gerard McGuckian said the money represented excellent news.
"The Western Trust has been involved in extensive planning for this project over a significant period of time and we have been eager to move forward with it," he added.
"I am delighted that the minister's commitment now will allow construction of these modern and much-needed health care facilities in the enhanced local hospital for Omagh to commence."
A total of £25m has already been spent on acquiring the land and preparatory work.
There has been a long-running campaign to protect services in Co Tyrone. In 2005 up to 24,000 people gathered in the main street in Omagh to protest at the decision to scrap accident and emergency services at Tyrone County Hospital. In 2003 Dr Kieran Deeny, a GP from Carrickmore, was elected to the Northern Ireland Assembly having run on a single issue ticket of retaining the Tyrone County Hospital in Omagh.