Robinson Memorial Hospital, Ballymoney

Oral Answers to Questions — Health – in the Northern Ireland Assembly at 3:00 pm on 13th December 2021.

Alert me about debates like this

Photo of Mervyn Storey Mervyn Storey DUP 3:00 pm, 13th December 2021

4. Mr Storey asked the Minister of Health for an update on the refurbishment of the Robinson Memorial Hospital, Ballymoney. (AQO 2910/17-22)

Photo of Robin Swann Robin Swann UUP

I thank the Member for his question. The planning and design for the refurbishment of the Robinson Memorial Hospital is progressing well, and the implementation plan is being finalised.

The refurbishment will reconfigure the footprint of the hospital to provide 16 in-patient beds, which will be made up of six single bedrooms with en-suite facilities, one two-bed room with en-suite facilities, and two four-bed gender-specific wards with en-suite facilities. The hospital will also undergo extensive updating throughout to improve storage areas, office accommodation and all patient areas. Works are due to commence in April 2022 and, we think, will take up to six months.

Photo of Mervyn Storey Mervyn Storey DUP

I thank the Minister for his answer. What he has said is welcome news. It is disappointing, however, that the funding of this has had to come solely from the charitable Gordon Robinson Memorial Trust.

The fact that the Robinson Hospital has existed for 88 years is, clearly, an indication of its commitment within the trust. However, will the Minister give an assurance that, with all the talk that there is about the reconfiguration of health services and all the change that he anticipates will come in the years ahead, particularly following on from the recommendations of Bengoa, there is a future for the Robinson Memorial Hospital in healthcare provision in my constituency?

Photo of Robin Swann Robin Swann UUP

I thank the Member for his point about the importance of the contribution that the Robinson Memorial Hospital makes to healthcare provision in our constituency. I have often said in this place that we now need every square foot of our Health estate. That is why, like him, I welcome the refurbishing and upgrading of the Robinson Memorial Hospital because it is an indication of the commitment to the hospital's future. That was not present a number of years ago when we looked at the reconfiguration of provision across Northern Ireland.

The business case for the refurbishment is set at £2·2 million. Therefore, the investment is subject to change, following tender returns. As the Member indicated, the cost of the refurbishment is being met primarily by trust charitable funds and funds from the Robinson board of trustees. The board takes a keen interest in the strategic development of the hospital and the site. I welcome the fact that the Robinson board and the trust endeavour to work in partnership to enhance the site for the benefit of the community and actually future-proof the hospital.

Photo of Jim Allister Jim Allister Traditional Unionist Voice

I welcome the indication of progress in this matter. It is something that has been discussed almost every year since I arrived in the House, so it is good to hear about some progress. I salute the charitable trust, which really got this moving. Will the Minister tell us what, if any, public money is going into this project, which will meet a public demand?

Photo of Robin Swann Robin Swann UUP

The Member will be aware of how the Robinson trust is constructed in regard to that. As I said to the previous Member, the cost of the refurbishment is being met primarily by trust charitable funds and the Robinson board of trustees. With regard to the specifics, I will have to get back to the Member with an exact figure. From my brief, however, I believe that the cost is being met by the trust charitable funds and funds from the Robinson board of trustees.

Photo of Áine Murphy Áine Murphy Sinn Féin 3:15 pm, 13th December 2021

Minister, since becoming an MLA, my priority has been to deliver first-class services for my constituents in Fermanagh and South Tyrone. Therefore, I was delighted that the business case for the Lisnaskea health centre was signed off last week. Minister, can you tell us when we should expect that long-awaited project to begin?

Photo of Robin Swann Robin Swann UUP

I thank the Member, although she has travelled far from Ballymoney in her supplementary. I thank her for raising another positive development and announcement that has been made by my Department and the Western Trust with regard to the progress of that work. It has been long awaited and long asked for by many political representatives across the board, including my party colleague Rosemary Barton. The Member will be aware that a press release has been published that sets out the timeline. I apologise to her: I do not have those details in front of me, because it is not a supplementary that I was expecting after a question on the Robinson. I will get back to the Member in writing.

Photo of Alex Maskey Alex Maskey Sinn Féin

That is just another example of a wily new Member.

[Laughter.]