Bell speaks out on maternity issues in the Assembly

“First, I want to reiterate the point that a women-centred service is an ethos not a building. Both the City and the Royal are women-centre services providing choice and high quality care. It should be possible to combine the best of both services in a new regional maternity unit.

There are a full range of gynecology and oncology services on the Royal site aswell as the City.

Second, there seems to be a notion that maternity services can remain on the City site.”

“Well, if it is to be the Jubilee site, then that is an old building and it badly needs to be upgraded.”

“If it is to go into the City Tower Block, it will require three floors and I don’t think that is readily available. It must also be borne in mind that the Jubilee site has been earmarked for a new Cancer Unit for Northern Ireland.”

“On the hand at the Royal there is plenty of room for the increased usage. There are a number of wards that have been closed down lying empty.

Finally, The decision of the Health committee was hardly clear-cut. Some people are seeking to argue that the vote in the Health Committee was cross-community. The evidence hardly stacks up.”

“The vote was 7-4, less then two-thirds.Moreover, apart from a couple of representatives who voted from a constituency basis, the committee split along Unionist-Nationalist lines. This vote would not have passed either of the tests for cross-community support used in this Assembly.

If this situation was to be replicated in the Assembly, with Unionists mainly voting on one side of the debate, and Nationalists voting on the other, it would be a very unhealthy development.

If the debate on the first really contentious socio-economic issue to come before us becomes polarised along Unionist-Nationalist lines, what kind of message are we going to send to the community about how this Assembly is going to conduct its business?”


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