30 September 2005

£300m for Royal Hospitals


The Royal Hospitals yesterday announced a £300 million redevelopment plan which will see a brand new maternity hospital and children's hospital constructed on the Royal Victoria's Falls Road site.

The new state-of-the-art buildings are expected to be completed by 2017 at the latest and are part of a major investment plan which will see a staggering three quarters of a billion pounds pumped into the redevelopment of the hospital over the next 10 years.

Speaking to the Andersonstown News yesterday, the Royal Hospitals' Chief Executive, William McKee, said he was delighted with the announcement.
“We continue to strive to improve the environment in which we care for patients and these funds will ensure that we get expert advice in the design and development of this building," said Mr McKee.

“Although the completion date is 2017, we expect to have seventy-five per cent of the building open before that. This is a very congested site, we cannot build the hospital in one bite so it will take time," he added, before confirming that the current 80-year-old children's hospital and the maternity hospital will be demolished in the future. The current buildings will continue to offer their existing services whilst the new buildings are being constructed and we will be upgrading the old buildings to an acceptable standard in the meantime so services are not affected, but eventually the older buildings will be demolished."

Mr McKee is confident that the new structures will complement the existing services at the hospital and revealed that the hospital conferred with local women's groups regarding the new buildings and included their views in the broad design.
“These buildings will match the quality of care provided by our staff who are well trained and dedicated to caring for each and every patient.

“The maternity hospital, where we deliver 5,000 babies per year, will provide more choice for mothers and children as there will be single rooms for all maternity patients rather than wards, and we are aiming to make the Children's Hospital a more family-friendly place with overnight accommodation specifically for the children's families."

The hospital is now anticipating a further announcement which will give the green light to £95 million plans for a critical care unit, which will replace the current A&E block, as well as a burns unit and a heli-pad amongst other plans which will help the hospital retain its reputation as one of the leading medical centres in Europe.

The news has been warmly welcomed by local Sinn Fein councillor Tom Hartley.

“This is great news, the international reputation of the Royal will be enhanced by the new facilities and services that come out of this development, particularly the children's hospital. The existing maternity hospital is fantastic and the new one can only offer even better services than before to expectant mothers across the North. This is certainly a welcome development."

Úna Ní Mhearáin of the Falls Women’s Centre echoed Councillor Hartley's comments. “The development of the regional maternity hospital has been held up long enough and it's about time mothers and babies got the service they deserve. This news is very welcome indeed."

Journalist:: Francesca Ryan

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