Antrim Area Hospital is to get a significant injection of cash.
THE new Minister for Health has unveiled detailed plans designed to breathe new life into Antrim Area Hospital - and revealed that he is prepared to spend millions to get the service back on its feet.
After years of short-term sticky plaster solutions, Edwin Poots has vowed that his Department will finally diagnose the problems that have left the ailing A&E Department on life support.
Concerns about the strains on Antrim - which was recently compared to pressures at the very height of the Troubles by a top medic - catapulted it to the very top of the political agenda at Stormont this week.
Mid-Ulster MLA Francie Molloy warned that the outlook for Antrim, without a significant injection of cash, was grim.
He argued that since the closure of the Casualty Departments at neighbouring Mid-Ulster and Whiteabbey, the Area Hospital had become 'over loaded and its facilities have been diluted' - adding that this was borne out by the 1,451 people forced to wait 12 hours or more to be seen between January and March this year.
“That is simply not good enough," he said. "It is not acceptable and surely cannot be deemed safe."
DUP Assemblyman Trevor Clarke stressed, however, that it would be a mistake to speak ill of the dedicated army of staff who are struggling to meet soaring demand.
“Antrim was not designed to cater for the additional patients that are being brought to it," he said.
“The professionalism of the staff who work in the hospital cannot be questioned."