Temporary block on Dalriada closure

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A Belfast judge has put a temporary block on the closure and non-admission policy of Dalriada Hospital in Ballycastle.

The Northern Trust was planning the temporary closure of wards at the Co Antrim facility because of pressures on its budget.

The hospital is home to Northern Ireland’s only MS respite unit.

On Thursday, Mr Justice Treacy granted interim relief to allow for admissions and to halt the redployment of staff during the consultation period ahead of a judicial review.

Last week Health Minister Jim Wells announced a consultation on the issue.

However, while he said the hospital would not close, as scheduled on 1 December, he said it would not admit new patients.

Campaigners said the non-admission policy was a means to bring about the closure of the unit.

Statement by North Antrim MLA Jim Allister added: “I have always believed that the Minister was wrong on this issue. The decision by Mr Wells to run down the Dalriada by way of refusing new admissions while the “consultation” was ongoing made a nonsense of the exercise.

“I greatly welcome the interim relief granted by the High Court which ensures that the Dal will continue to accept new patients.”