Speaking after an Adjournment debate in the Assembly on the Future of Health Care Provision in North Antrim Sinn Féin MLA Philip McGuigan said;
“North Antrim is a largely rural constituency, covering a large geographical area and including Rathlin island. This in itself throws ups challenges. Challenges of travelling time, of access to services, of emergency response times and much more. Given its rural nature ambulance response times are a genuine concern in life threatening situations for people living in the Glens and other remote geographical locations in north Antrim. This aspect needs careful consideration in any future plans for the health service.
“Constituents of North Antrim are currently served by 2 acute hospitals – the Causeway in Coleraine and Antrim Area Hospital and two community hospitals – the Robinson in Ballymoney and the Dalriada in Ballycastle. I have always supported and been involved in the efforts to protect and build on these local facilities and will continue to make the case for equality of access for the people of north Antrim and argue for the resources required including staff resources.
“One of the single biggest factor that we will need to look at with regard to future health provision is our growing ageing population and tackling health inequalities. The Northern health trust has over 35,000 citizens over 75 years of age and this is to grow to 45,000 by 2021. How a society looks after its elderly population says much about that society.
“The future of our health service needs to ensure that our elderly can remain and be looked after in their own homes if that is what they and their families want. That requires investment in people. We need to address the current shortage of nursing care as currently exists in the Northern health trust. We need to get people to work in domiciliary care. Allowing our elderly population when they need treatment to get it in their own homes keeps them well as long as possible.
“That said people need choice and the health service should provide that choice. It may not be possible for elderly citizens to remain and be cared for in their own homes. Statutory care homes are also needed and I support the work of the Roddens in Ballymoney and other care homes in the Northern health trust area.