A £6.9m investment is on the way to upgrade paediatric services at Craigavon Area Hospital.
The investment is part of a £15 million development plan to modernise hospital services for children and young people across the Southern Trust.
All planned paediatric surgery for the Southern Trust will be centralised in a new £8.4m purpose-built centre of excellence at Daisy Hill Hospital. A design team has been appointed to plan the capital development at both hospitals with construction work expected to be completed in 2017.
The Minister said: “In these hard economic times, this is excellent news for children and young people in the Southern Trust Area. This development of children’s services at Daisy Hill and Craigavon Area hospitals clearly demonstrates my commitment to improving the lives of Northern Ireland’s children and young people, and it is a real and tangible sign to the people of the Southern Trust area that a new development will be delivered as promised.
Southern Trust chief executive, Mairead McAlinden, said: “I am grateful to the Minister, particularly in the current difficult financial climate, for this decision to prioritise capital investment in children’s services in Daisy Hill and Craigavon hospitals.
“We see this phase as a major step forward in achieving the highest standards of care for our children and young people when they need hospital care.”
MP David Simpson said: “I am delighted that our Health Minister has stood by his commitment to the Southern Trust and made this decision. Providing a high quality and professional standard of hospital care is paramount in providing a positive lifestyle for our children and young people.”
John McCallister Independent Unionist MLA for South Down has welcomed the announcement saying it will ‘go a long way in helping hundreds of local families’.
“The overall approval of a £15 million development plan will modernise hospital services for children and young people across the Southern Health Trust” he said.
“It will be redeveloped to include a new child-friendly theatre suite and recovery area”.
“As a parent of young children this is very reassuring news for once, in terms of local health care provision. We will have state of the art services right on our door step, and when children are ill and in hospital, it means a lot being close to home in very difficult and stressful situations.”