“Being cared for in the Dalriada Hospital is like being enveloped in a big hug with strong arms.”
That was how Moyle District councillor and former Dalriada Hospital nurse Catherine McCambridge described the treatment and care given to patients in the Ballycastle hospital. She was speaking at Monday’s meeting of Moyle Council during which members received an update on the campaign to fight the closure of the MS unit.
Addressing the chamber was Dr Reamai Mathers who spoke of the “uplifting support from all over”.
He spoke of the “topsy turvy” view of the Chief Executive of the Northern Trust who told a publc meeting in Ballycastle that his priorities were balancing the books and patient safety.
Dr Mathers said this was a “topsy turvy view of the health service”.
He said it was most disappointing tha the Northern Trust had not been forthcoming with figures to back up their arguments for closure.
“We have a lot of heart and soul but we also need hard heads to look at the economics behind this and that’s what we are working on at the moment.
“The support from Moyle has been fantastic and we would ask you to come out and support your community in any way you can.”
Chair of the Council, councillor Donal Cunningham said that plans are afoot to organise public meetings in Bushmills, Ballymoney, Loughguile and Mosside.
He said that the public support for the campaign had been fantastic and highlighted the hundreds of people who turned out for the white line picket in Ballycastle.
“When the applause started to travel from the Coleraine Road to the seafront and back again, it was very emotional,” he added.
Cllr Cara McShane also praised the “people’s campaign” and said that “everything but the kitchen sink had been thrown at this”.
“We are in solidarity with the patients, staff and families and also with rural communities standing shoulder to shoulder with them.”
Cllr Seamus Blaney said that Council needed hard and fast answers from the Minister and the Northern Trust because “so far they have told us nothing”.
Cllr Padraig McShane said that the issue was one of fundamental politics as the system at work currently had lead to these massive cuts.
Cllr Catherine McCambridge said the threat of closure “diminished our ability to care for our own”.
She added: “The thought of there not being a Dalriada Hospital is quite unthinkable. The ethos of caring at Dalriada Hospital seeps through everyone, it’s an incredible warm network.”