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‘Action, not delay’ required over mental health unit

A LACK of funding  has resulted in plans for a proposed new £25 million acute mental health unit at Omagh Hospital having to be ‘temporarily’ shelved.

The new unit, which is estimated to cost in the region of £25 million, is being seen as vital to address what is  expected to be a sharp rise in mental health issues after the coronavirus pandemic.

It is earmarked to include a 26-bed acute mental health unit, with six integrated psychiatric intensive care beds and a therapy day centre, an eight-bed alcohol and drug treatment unit and a 20-bed unit to facilitate Older People’s Mental Health, Dementia and a therapeutic hub.

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However, plans to build the  6,700 square metre facility adjacent to the Omagh Hospital have been put on hold due to funding constraints and  the Department of Health has returned a business case for the unit to the Western Trust.

Sinn Fein’s West Tyrone MP, Orfhlaith Begley, has written to Health Minister Robin Swann, expressing her “deep disappointment”  that his department is not progressing with the new unit due to the funding constraints.

Ms Begley said she was “shocked and disappointed”  by the decision to return the business case back to the Trust.

“Now more than ever, this facility is vital within West Tyrone to support those struggling with mental health and addictions,” she added.

“What is needed now is action, not delays. I will be pressing the Health Minister on this to ensure the people of this area have access to high quality, safe and effective mental health care.”

A spokesperson for the Western Trust said, “The Western Health and Social Care Trust have previously submitted a business case to the Department of Health for a new Centre for Mental Health to be located in Omagh.

“Due to funding constraints at that time, the Department of Health returned the business case to the Trust advising that they were unable to progress its consideration, although they have confirmed that they remain committed to the development going forward should the funding position change.

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“The Trust continues to highlight the priority of this important mental health project with the Department.”

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Ulster Herald is published by North West of Ireland Printing & Publishing Company Limited, trading as North-West News Group.
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