An Alliance delegation met the Chair and senior officers of the Northern Health and Social Services Board last week to discuss the provision of services for people in South and East Antrim.
The delegation was led by Alliance leader David Ford, MLA for South Antrim, and included Cllr Lynn Frazer of Newtownabbey and Cllr John Matthews of Larne.
Speaking after the meeting, David Ford said: “We were pleased to hear that the Department has recognised that our area has been under-funded for some years, and that funding for the Northern Board is to be increased. This has been an issue at many of our regular meetings with the Board. However, it is very worrying that the Department is only phasing in the necessary changes over a number of years.
“There are many issues which need to be addressed, including the restructuring of acute hospital services for the area and improving basic community services for elderly and disabled people, as well as children and people with learning disabilities.
“The additional £7 million which the Board will receive this year is only a small part of what is required for a fair distribution of resources across Northern Ireland.
“We asked the Board for information about the future of Whiteabbey Hospital and the current pressure on Antrim Hospital. I do not believe that the current level of services is adequate at either site.
“Board officers assured us that they are concerned to ensure that their proposals for the future of acute services is accepted by the Department. We will seek assurances for the Minster that she accepts the importance of every aspect of the plan has to be implemented: there can be no shortcuts if local people are to get the services they deserve and need.
“Further meetings have been arranged with Homefirst Community Trust and United Hospitals Trust at which we will be looking at the details of local services.”