A NEW acute mental health unit proposed as phase two of the Omagh Hospital and Primary Care Complex is now in doubt after a key Western Trust team was stood down.
It is understood that the decision to disband the ‘Developing Better Services Team’ within the Trust was taken due to ongoing doubts about the likely release of funding for the new Mental Health crisis unit from Stormont.
The DBS team had previously worked on ensuring the successful completion of both the new Omagh Hospital and the South West Acute Hospital.
The situation is being blamed on the ongoing political crisis which has meant no health minister has been in place for a year to confirm the approval and release the money needed for the second stage of the new Omagh Hospital, phase one of which opened last year.
Chairman of the Tyrone and Fermanagh branch of the health union, Unison, Andy McKane, said that Omagh was falling victim to the fact that no Stormont health minister has been in place.
He urged politicians to resolve their differences and help ensure that what he described as a “crucial facility” for the people of the west goes ahead.
“If this Developing Better Services Team (DBS) is stood down then we are going to lose the expertise that they possessed in a wide range of areas,” he said.
“This is a major setback for the plans to build Phase Two of the new Omagh Hospital and is especially frustrating because the go-ahead for the new mental health unit there had already been provided.
“It is also a very worrying, frustrating and soul-destroying development and a massive blow and setback to the huge efforts that have been made to progress this unit in recent years.”
SDLP MLA Daniel McCrossan said the move would “only increase existing pressures on emergency services”.
He continued, “Plans for further development are to be shelved while staff are currently being redeployed and the oversight body disband. This is only six months after the opening of the hospital which cost £105 million and makes completely no sense at all.”
A spokesperson for the Western Trust said that the business case for the Mental Health Crisis Unit had not yet been approved.
“The Trust is therefore, unable to progress with this scheme and does not have the resources to retain team members on this project until it receives business case approval and funding.”