‘United Community Prayer’ for the future of Dalriada Hospital

22 11 2014


Ballycastle Church Action invites you to the Sheskburn Centre for a ‘United Community Prayer’ for the future of Dalriada Hospital from 6.30pm to 7.00pm on Monday 24 November. Please come in big numbers.

Health Minister must prove he is in charge

9 11 2014

 Cover Photo

SDLP Health Spokesperson Fearghal McKinney MLA is calling on the Health Minister to call a halt to Health Trust cutback decisions to allow for a proper review of the plans.

Some of the Trusts ‘contingency’ plans have been greeted with horror by patients and the public in places like Armagh, Bangor, Downpatrick and Ballycastle and the Health Minister himself has questioned a plan for cutbacks at Dalriada Hospital.

“As well as reflecting concern about Dalriada, the Health Minister has regularly repeated that he is relatively new to his position and it is also clear from evidence to the Health Committee from Departmental officials that Trusts had been working on their plans for some time and certainly before Mr Wells took up his post.

“It is our view that the plans are not about strategic health provision but are about relieving pressure on individual Trusts financial bottom lines.  They are certainly not in the context of the Transforming Your Care strategic plan for moving more of our services into the community. In fact some will have the opposite effect.

“Moves such as cutting back on minor injuries clinics and respite provision are, in the view of the SDLP, certainly not consistent with that plan and may even put further pressure on our hospital and accident and emergency units.

“There is a real need to reassure the public that any cutbacks will have as little impact on patients and the public as possible.  The Minister has an opportunity to do that – prove that it is he who is in charge and not the Trusts – and call a halt to the cuts to allow a strategic review.

“To do nothing and allow the cutbacks to proceed will show it is civil servants who are in charge not the Health Minister.”

#SaveTheDal – Letter to the Minister

9 11 2014


Copy of letter from local GPs to Health Minister:Mr Jim Wells 
The Minister
Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety
Information Office
C5.20 Castle Buildings
Stormont Buildings
BT4 3SQDear Mr Wells,

As you are aware Dr Tony Stevens, Chief Executive of NHSCT announced on Thursday 30th November 2014, the “temporary” closure of Dalriada Hospital in Ballycastle in its entirety at the end of November 2014.

Dalriada Hospital has provided outstanding medical care to the people of Ballycastle and the surrounding areas for decades.

This decision to close Dalriada hospital betrays the substance of Transforming Your Care which promotes intermediate care, with medical care being provided to patients either in their own homes or in intermediate care units as close as possible to their homes.

As GPs who work in Dalriada Hospital we wish to voice our grave concerns about the proposed closure of Dalriada Hospital. Although described as a “temporary” closure, Dr Tony Stevens CEO was unable to give any assurance that this would be the case, merely advising that there would be consultation about the provision of intermediate care throughout the Northern Trust area after the end of this financial year. He also stated that as this was “temporary” he was under no obligation to carry out any consultation.

The hospital encompasses 20 intermediate care beds and 12 regional Multiple sclerosis respite beds. Not only do we the GPs accept patients on a step-down basis from the acute hospital setting (e.g. for rehabilitation following orthopaedic surgery for fractured hips) we also provide a step-up service.

The step-up service allows us to directly admit a patient from home, including Rathlin islanders to Dalriada Hospital who would otherwise require attendance at A+E and admission into an acute hospital bed. As you are aware the cost of a bed day in Dalriada Hospital is a fraction of the cost of a bed day in the acute hospital setting such as Causeway or Antrim Area Hospital.

The doctors also accept and provide medical cover for patients who have been assessed in A+E or admitted to the medical assessment unit and require further short-term clinical care and rehabilitation with the assistance of the multidisciplinary team.

Unfortunately the number of patients requiring complex palliative care treatment has escalated in the past years and Dalriada hospital has highly skilled clinical staff members who are fully dedicated and competent to provide this essential service to patients who otherwise their care could only be provided in the acute hospital setting.

Dalriada hospital also provides a regional respite service for patients with Multiple Sclerosis who have complex medical and nursing needs. During their respite stay the service users avail.

The many services on site including dentistry, podiatry, physiotherapy and occupational therapy. This prevents fragmented care at home. Sadly many of these patients are young. A nursing home environment would be totally unsuitable to their needs. This has been continually voiced by the Multiple Sclerosis Society.
The clinical care provided by the specialist nurses in Dalriada Hospital provides not only for the physical complexities, but also the psychological and social needs of the sufferers of Multiple Sclerosis and their families. This is unique and has been emphasised by the service users and reiterated in the media.

The disbandment of the hospital and these specialist skilled staff will have enormous clinical impact on the provision of acute hospital care and would appear to make no economic sense.

As GPs we are fearful of the impact this proposed major cutback in local healthcare provision will have on the patients in our practices populations. North Antrim and Rathlin Island have become popular retirement areas and hence we have a large proportion of frail elderly patients. In the winter months particularly, many of these patients unfortunately succumb to respiratory infections and fractures due to falls. The only option for these patients will be to attend A+E with long trolley waits and prolonged stay in acute hospital beds. These patients have been treated and have had rehabilitation (including after orthopaedic surgery) up to the present time in Dalriada hospital.

The Northern Trust representatives have argued that they have too many intermediate care beds. Unfortunately they have been disingenuous in their description of intermediate care beds. At present the only intermediate care facilities in the NHSCT area which are staffed by trained nurses are:
• Dalriada Hospital with 20 intermediate care beds. 
• Robinson Hospital in Ballymoney with 21 intermediate care beds 
• Inver in Larne with 16 intermediate care beds 
• Mid Ulster hospital in Magherafelt which has 3 assessment beds.

All the other units which the trust has called intermediate care beds are staffed by care assistants with no trained nurses. Patients can only be admitted to these care assistant staffed units if;
• they can be cared for with the assistance of one person, 
• if they do not have dementia and 
• If they do not have medical complications requiring skilled nursing care.

These care assistant staffed units are in Ballymoney, Ballymena, Antrim, Larne, Whiteabbey and Cookstown. None of these are within easy access of Ballycastle and the Glens.

1. If this proposed closure is enforced what is going to happen to the patients in this area of North Antrim and Rathlin Island?
2. Where are our patients with complex palliative care needs going to be admitted?
3. Can you give assurances that our frail elderly patients will not spend prolonged undignified days on A+E trolleys?
4. Where will the clients with Multiple Sclerosis avail of respite care?

The haste with which this announcement was made has caused enormous anxiety to the people of Ballycastle, Rathlin Island and the Glens. Unfortunately without the answers to the questions we pose we have been unable to allay these fears and anxieties. We would invite you to reply urgently to our questions so that we can assure our patients of a safe and high standard of medical provision.

We would also invite you to come to Dalriada hospital to see for yourself the excellent facilities which it provides, a service which actually saves the Health service money. You will be assured of a very warm welcome.
Yours sincerely,
Dr Mary McLister
Dr Martin O’Kane
Dr Bernie Hegarty
Dr Fergal Hasson
Dr Farah Nawaz
Dr Adrian Sterne
Dr Ian Hadden
Dr Stephen McDonnell
In support of: Dr Dermot Grant, Dr John McSparran and Dr Gillian Elder, Glens of Antrim Medical Centre
Mr Tony Stevens Chief Executive
Cllr Donal Cunningham
Cllr Joan Baird
Cllr Cara McShane
Ian Paisley MP
Robin Swann MLA
Jim Allister MLA
Daithi McKay MLA
Mervyn Storey MLA
Northern Local Commissioning Group

Public meeting to support campaign to keep Dalriada Hospital open arranged for Tuesday 18 November at 7pm in Dunluce School, Bushmills.

Dalriada Hospital, Ballycastle, Cuts – Action and Reaction

Coleraine Times slideshow of Public Meeting [Photos by Kevin McAuley; Slideshow by Una Culkin]

UTV coverage of white-line protest

Ministerial office email address for submission of views: private.office@

Save Dalriada Hospital

30 10 2014



Ballycastle SDLP Councillor Dónal Cunningham is calling on the Health Minister Jim Wells to immediately halt plans to close the Dalriada Hospital after this morning’s announcement that 20 intermediate care beds would close from the end of November to the end of the financial year effectively meaning the closure of the hospital.

Councillor Cunningham who is the current Chair of Moyle Council has requested an emergency Council meeting with Senior Trust officials and is also organising a public meeting continued:

“This is a flawed decision, which I am asking the Health Minister to reverse. I spent this afternoon in the hospital with staff and patients, many of whom were reduced to tears at the news.”

“I also met with senior Trust officials on site who outlined their plans which are part of a range of measures, in order to bridge a £6.9million year end pressure. This will mean that intermediate care and MS Centre patients and staff will transfer to other local hospitals. This is entirely unacceptable, and completely overlooks the dedication and professionalism of the staff in the Dalriada Hospital.”

“I am asking people of the area to fight like never before to save Dalriada Hospital.”

Mental & Emotional Well-being and Suicide Prevention(Small Grants Scheme 2014-15)

27 08 2014


 mental health

The Public Health Agency (PHA) has identified non-recurring funding to address the themes of Suicide Prevention, Self- Harm, Mental Health & Emotional Well-Being and have commissioned North Antrim Community Network and Causeway Rural and Urban Network to facilitate this process.

 As such the North Antrim Community Network and Causeway Rural and Urban Network is inviting community and voluntary sector organisations to apply for non-recurring awards to address the outlined themes.

 Grants are available at the level of £1,000 per project.  Applications may be considered for more strategic projects over £1,000 limit dependent on evidence of need and availability of resources. 

 GRANT SCHEME RE-OPENS 26th August 2014 and  CLOSES 19th September 2014 @ 12 noon

PLEASE NOTE: Any organisation previously funded within this year of 2014-15 are not eligible to apply.

 Training Directories for the Northern Area (available on request)

 For further details please contact:

Amanda Elliott , North Antrim Community Network & Causeway Rural & Urban Network, Old School House, 25 Mill Street ,Cushendall,BT44 0RR

02821772100 / 07740282650


Small Grants Scheme – Health & Social Wellbeing (NICHI Projects) 2014/15

1 07 2014

Community Health

The Networks Involving Communities in Health Improvement (NICHI) Project  is now inviting applications to its small grants scheme for innovative projects that aim to improve health and social wellbeing. The scheme is open to community and voluntary groups that operate within the ten Council areas of the Northern area – Antrim, Carrickfergus,  Newtownabbey, Ballymena, Ballymoney, Moyle, Larne, Cookstown, Magherafelt & Coleraine.

 Grants of up to £1000 are available for projects that aim to improve health and social wellbeing by making healthy choices easier, reducing health inequalities and building local communities. NICHI particularly welcomes proposals which address poverty and/or social isolation and which target the top 30% most disadvantaged Super Output Areas in the PHA Northern Locality.

 The fund is open for applications from Thursday 26th June until Tuesday 19th August 2014. Please contact your local Network (details below) for an application pack which will provide further information on who can apply and what can be funded.

 For groups in Ballymena, Ballymoney, Larne & Moyle, contact North Antrim Community Network (Veronica McKinley) on 02821 772100 or emailhealth@nacn.org

 The NICHI Small Grants Scheme is supported by funding from the Public Health Agency. It is separate from and in addition to the recently advertised Grants Scheme for Promoting Mental and Emotional Wellbeing and Suicide Prevention.

Bid to cut falls among children and older people

13 05 2014
Home Accident Prevention Northern Ireland (HAP NI) held a very successful launch of its annual home safety campaign at the Guildhall, Derry on Monday 12th May 2014. The focus of this year’s campaign is on Falls Prevention. This year’s campaign is entitled “Wise Up  … Watch Your Step! Stop Fall Injuries in the Home.”
While the consequences of a slip, trip or fall are minor in many cases, for older people and very young children, in particular, the consequences can be serious and life changing.
In 2012, 125 people died as a result of a home accident in Northern Ireland. These figures exceed road and farm fatalities combined. Of those who died at home 71 (58%) died as a result of a fall and the vast majority were older people. 41% of all people who attend our A&E Departments do so as a result of a home accident, again falls are the single biggest reason for attending.
The audience included representatives from HAP Groups from throughout Northern Ireland and other practitioners who work to support families and older members of the community.
Throughout the year local HAP groups will provide talks, information sessions and in conjunction with councils offer Home Safety advice visits to help reduce the numbers.
Commenting on the event, Mr. Conor McCleave, Chairperson of HAP NI said: “Every year falls injure hundreds of people in Northern Ireland, leaving many members of our community with life changing injuries. We hope that by providing lots of clear practical advice that we can help ensure that the people we love stay healthy and happy and safely on their feet”
Home Accident Prevention Northern Ireland (HAP NI) is a voluntary network who aims to prevent all kinds of accidents which occur in and around our homes. HAP NI provide a local forum of employer supported and traditional volunteers including support from Environmental Health, Voluntary Services, Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, Police Service for Northern Ireland, Housing Executive, RoSPA, Health Trusts, Local Community Organisations.
For further information contact:
David Adams, Management Team, HAP NI, tel. 028 2766 0277 or email david.adams@moyle-council.org