Soap stars back web campaign to #SaveTheDal

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Coronation street stars have joined in an online campaign urging people to sign a petition to Health Minister Jim Wells, asking him to stop the closure of Dalriada Hospital.

The petition, which is hosted on the website Change.org, outlines how the Ballycastle hospital is home to the only dedicated MS respite unit in Northern Ireland and that its closure would have “a devastating impact on the people who rely on this vital service” - both locally and further afield.

“There are more than 4,000 people affected by Multiple Sclerosis in Northern Ireland,” the petition points out, saying closure will impact staff and patients alike.

As well as David Nielson, who plays Roy Cropper in the soap, Terence Maynard (Tony Stewart) and Les Dennis, actors Jack P Shepherd, Tisha Merry and Ben Price also got involved through Facebook pictures showing them holding a poster supporting #SaveTheDal - which has also made tracks on Twitter.

When asked why the unit had to close, a spokesperson for the Northern Trust said: “The Trust has been required to develop a savings plan for the remaining part of 2014/2015 to achieve reduced spend in-year of £6.9m.

“Part of the savings plan involves the temporary closure of 12 MS Respite beds at Dalriada Hospital.

“The Northern Trust will continue to provide respite services for patients with Multiple Sclerosis and everyone who requires respite will continue to receive it.”

Minister Wells, however, last week announced “eight weeks public consultation on this temporary closure”.