Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson, Roy Beggs MLA, has written to the Permanent Secretary of the Health Department urging investment in the Victorian Holywell Hospital in Antrim. The facility currently provides a range of acute and other in-patient mental health services.
Roy Beggs said:
“Holywell Hospital was opened in 1898 to cover the County Antrim area and it was one of the last large mental health premises built by the Victorians.
“I was recently contacted by a constituent whose relative had been unable to be admitted to Holywell Hospital due to a lack of beds, and who was temporarily placed at the Bluestone Unit in Craigavon. I was advised of the stark difference between the two facilities and of the need for investment to replace the Victorian built Holywell hospital facility to improve mental health inpatient facilities and outcomes.
“I recently visited staff and patients at Holywell Hospital’s dedicated dementia assessment unit located within the hospital’s Victorian Building. My constituent had also highlighted the need for improved personal space at the Tobernaveen facilities to aid recovery.
“During my visit the staff acknowledged that there was a need for improved personal space, common rooms and treatment facilities to assist in the recovery from poor mental health. Better designed facilities also lessen the likelihood of a patients’ exposure to stressful traumatic events involving others.
“The RQIA, whilst acknowledging the good practice and care at the site, have also written to the Department of Health expressing their concerns regarding parts of Holywell Hospital’s dated design which are not fit for purpose as set out in modern standards.
“Maintaining the ageing, listed building and its infrastructure is expensive. In addition, the preferred option of a new build facility close to the main Antrim Hospital site will improve access to wider health care for patients and reduce travel and supervision costs. It is understood that the case for capital investment has completed the assessment process within the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and the Health and Social Care Board and awaits a capital decision which would normally be made by a Minister.
“There is a strong case for replacing the Victorian built Antrim mental health facility. I have sought clarity from the Permanent Secretary of the Dept. of Health when this badly needed investment will be made. I hope that mental health patients are not suffering as a result of the refusal of Sinn Fein to enable the Executive to be re-established and to allow this important investment decision to be made.”