Church shock at hospital closure

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The shock announcement about the future of the Dalriada Hospital in Ballycastle, was discussed at last week’s meeting of the Route Presbytery, which represents 22 Presbyterian Congregations in the Ballymoney and North Antrim area.

Rev.Trevor Magowan said: “The M.S. Centre is unique. It is the only one in Northern Ireland and its most articulate advocates are the M.S. patients themselves who have experienced the invaluable care given to them and their families - not least in respite care.

“Yet the swiftness of the impending closure has meant that here was no public consultation to which the Northern Trust are surely legally bound. The overall impression is that the disabled, the vulnerable and the elderly will suffer at the hands of the powerful at different levels.”

Seconding the motion, Dr Godfrey Brown, who has been a Chaplain at the Hospital for over 50 years, spoke of how the Hospital provided care for the terminally ill, and allowed such patients to die with dignity in the presence of their loved ones.

He also referred to the sizeable number of patients who having sustained injuries from a fall, or following orthopaedic surgery were able to get appropriate care for several weeks in an environment that provided highly skilled nursing, while freeing up bed space in the acute hospitals.

The Route Presbytery unanimously passed the following resolution at its meeting on 6th November in First Ballymoney Presbyterian Church: ‘The Presbytery of Route is dismayed at the recent decision to close the Dalraida Hospital and the MS Unit in Ballycastle, and requests the Minister of Health, Mr Jim Wells MLA, and the Department of Health to reconsider and reverse their decision, believing that the community and personal costs have been so painfully miscalculated’.