New palliative care unit at Antrim Hospital

A NEW £5.36 million palliative care unit has been officially opened at Antrim Area Hospital by Health Minister Edwin Poots.

The new one-of-a-kind unit provides the only specialist palliative care beds available within the NHS in Northern Ireland.

Macmillan Cancer Support raised a massive £2.1 million from people across Northern Ireland to help build the much-needed unit, and gave another £800,000 to help cover staff costs.

It’s hoped the new unit will ensure people in the Northern Trust will get high quality end of life care, whether they have cancer or another kind of life limiting illness.

“How we care for those at the end of their lives says a lot about us as a society and that is why excellent palliative care provision is a vital part of the health service,” Mr Poots said at the official opening.

“This new unit is an excellent example of the voluntary and statutory sectors working closely together. Indeed, Macmillan has provided funding to support the development and running of the unit. This important partnership offers a unique opportunity to improve services for people right across Northern Ireland.”

The unit, in the grounds of Antrim Area Hospital, is the result of a partnership between Macmillan, the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and the Department of Health and Social Services.

It has 12 ensuite bedrooms for cancer patients and overnight accommodation for relatives. As well as specialist medical care, patients and their families can also access emotional and financial support, complementary therapies and respite care.

The Unit will also have outpatient services for people who need day care but who don’t need to stay in the unit.

“This new unit will help ensure people with terminal cancer will be as comfortable as possible during the time they have left,” said Macmillan’s General Manager for Northern Ireland Heather Monteverde.

“While the specialist medical care on offer is vital, one of the major strengths of the unit is that it allows families to stay with patients as much as they want which is really important at such a difficult time.

“I would like to say a big thank you to the local people and businesses who supported our appeal to raise the money needed to create such a vital service in Antrim.”