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Future of Mater Hospital 'assured'

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The future of Belfast's Mater Hospital is 'secure', says Health Minister Michael McGimpsey

The future of Belfast's Mater Hospital is 'secure', says Health Minister Michael McGimpsey

The future of Belfast's Mater Hospital is 'secure', says Health Minister Michael McGimpsey

The future of the Mater Hospital in north Belfast is assured, the Health Minister said.

Last year the Belfast Health Trust held a consultation on the delivery of acute services intended to end duplication.

The Crumlin Road centre is a regional centre for ophthalmology and works closely with other hospitals in the area.

Minister Michael McGimpsey told the Assembly there was no threat to the Mater.

"The Mater Hospital's future, as far as I can see, the future of that hospital is assured and that hospital has a very important role to play in the delivery of hospital services in Belfast," he said. "I see it very much as an extension of the Royal and City Hospital complex within Belfast and as a regional centre for ophthalmology and for a number of other services."

Last week, a report said some hospitals in Northern Ireland may have to close to help balance the books over the coming years.

The research commissioned by the Health and Social Care Board warned a financial crisis was looming unless tough decisions were made. Other controversial suggestions include a charge for patients going to A&E or their GP.

Mr McGimpsey has said he can not support some of the proposals and added patients would find them unacceptable.

Meanwhile, the minister has warned that 4,000 jobs could be lost in the health service because of budget cuts. To provide an efficient service, officials said they needed £5.4 billion by 2015 - instead they are to get £4.6 billion - a shortfall of £800 million.

Health union Unison published its response to the Executive's draft budget and the potential job losses. "This, combined with the rigorous vacancy control already in place, is a recipe for falls in service standards, denial of treatment, and local economic impact as jobs no longer contribute to local economies," it said.

PA