The South Antrim MLA said: “The increase in the health budget is tiny and it does next to nothing to address the real need for more investment. Lip service has been paid in the Assembly on countless occasions to the Bamford Review, focussing on improving mental health services, yet we know that those funding levels will not keep up with demands for acute hospital services. The inevitable result is that mental-health, childcare and community-care services will cease to be funded properly, because acute hospitals will always be seen to be the priority.
“There are a number of fundamental problems that need to be tackled in acute hospitals. Infections such as MRSA and C difficile arise out of a failure to deal properly with structural and managerial problems. We need to protect the palliative care provided in the northern area, where the supply is totally inadequate.
“I also do not believe that the Northern Board and Trust should be contemplating any closure of facilities such as Inver House in Larne or the Braid Valley Hospital in Ballymena when the services those units provide are not available in any alternative facility locally.
“Patients in Antrim, Ballymena, Carrickfergus, Larne and Newtownabbey will suffer if there is any reduction in the services provided by these important facilities.”