Hilditch Requests The Transforming Your Care Strategy For East Antrim PDF Print E-mail

 I warmly welcome the Adjournment topic and the opportunity to contribute to this pretty wide-ranging topic.  I thank the Minister for his attendance and his ongoing interest in matters pertaining to our constituency, and I personally share and support much of the Minister's vision in transforming care, and I hope that our constitunency can play an integral part in moving forward.

Historically, of course,East Antrim was stripped of much of its health and social care facilities under the former direct rule Government and, later, Administrations locally.  People from the rural glens in the north, through the towns of Larne and Carrickfergus to the sprawling housing estates in the south of the constituency, have all been adversely affected and have had to travel to receive care in the major hospitals in Belfast city and, indeed, Antrim Area Hospital.  At one stage, the  constituency boasted three hospitals before the demise of Davidson Cottage Hospital, Moyle Hospital and Whiteabbey Hospital.  However, people eventually travelled, knowing that they were receiving the best standards and quality.  They were happy to do so, and that commitment from constituents should be acknowledged. 

As the Transforming Your Care strategy comes on line, it provides us with fresh challenges locally.  We are all aware of the ageing and poorly conditioned health centres in Larne and Carrickfergus that are no longer fit for purpose.  Indeed, I thank the  Minister for taking time in June this year to witness at first hand the problems encountered at Carrickfergus, when he visited to meet a group of local stakeholders that included two GP practices that operate from a very outdated and run-down facility. 

I was previously involved with a proposal to create a health village and well-being centre in the Carrickfergus area.  Unfortunately, that was a great opportunity lost.  The project would have been unique to Northern Ireland, as it would have encompassed not only health and care, but blue-light facilities, sports facilities and general recreational opportunities.  I believe that the Department and the civil servants under that previous mandate were wrong in their assertions that it could not go ahead.

I believe passionately that this location is very well placed to be the hub of one of the proposed integrated care partnerships (ICPs), incorporating the previously sought-after level 2 care centre. 


As I previously stated, all the stakeholders are on board, from those on the front line of healthcare delivery to administrators, other relevant agencies and landowners.  Such a facility would provide and deliver the extensive services that are desired, including GP services, a community chemist and in-reaching services from secondary providers such as hospitals and other auxiliaries.

I stress very strongly that there will be a high level of co-operation between local government, the Department, the trust and other relevant agencies in working through the logistics of any temporary service provision if an ICP were afforded to the area. 

I must say that the Transforming Your Care strategy has, in this case, prompted the local GPs to fully involve themselves in the vision, and I had the opportunity to attend several meetings where I witnessed a progressive and ambitious attitude and the building of collaborative working relationships with other stakeholders as we strive for a modern facility for the area. 

It is also worth acknowledging the work of a health inequalities officer Mr Iain McAfee on the document that he has provided, which contains statistics for the Carrickfergus area in relation to Transforming Your Care.  There are certainly some interesting figures in the document, including the above-average incidence in the area of deaths due to respiratory disease and the alarming female life-expectancy figures, which are not only below average for Northern Ireland but fall into the 20% lowest female life expectancy in the UK.  It was quite shocking to discover that.


There are many other areas of health and care to cover, not least, vital nursing home services such as those at Lisgarel, Joymount House and Greenisland House in the constitunecy.  Hopefully, those will also feature in any forthcoming discussions on the Transforming Your Care strategy.  However, it is my hope that the excellent preparatory work in relation to establishing an integrated care partnership in the area comes to fruition.