Belfast City Council has been urged to review a decision to sign off on the first phase of £100m healthcare facility. Both NIPSA and the Irish Congress of Trade Unions (ICTU) have said that the planned redevelopment of the Kings Hall site will cause further damage to the already struggling Health Service.
It has called on the Council to “ask serious questions” about the use of the private sector to deliver healthcare and it has also raised concerns about a company with charitable status running a care home at the proposed complex. Dubbed as a “Health and Wellbeing Centre”, the venture is understood to include a number of privately run facilities and has a former NHS Chief as one of its main advisors. John Compton, the former Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Board, is also one of the Non-Executive Directors of Benmore Octopus – the developers behind the project.A GP centre for NHS patients is also part of the plans, along with the potential for on-site diagnostics including x-ray, ultrasound and neo-patient care for over 25,000 patients.In addition, there are plans for a care home, hotel and leisure areas – with Abbeyfield confirmed that it will run a residential care home facility at the site. NIPSA had become aware that the Belfast City Council meeting scheduled for Tuesday 13 November 2018 had planned to give approval for planning permission for the private health care village at the Kings Hall complex.This is £100m investment in private health care at a time when our health service is in crisis. If approved this would mean a further division of those who can afford private health care and those who cannot.NIPSA was very vocal in asking political representatives to oppose this application. NIPSA put the following points to political representatives.
1. The development of any private sector related health care built village is a politicalissueand will be fundamentally opposed by NIPSA and the other health unions and Staff Side Organisations. The Bengoa Report and Delivery together 10 Year Plan was adopted by the Northern Ireland Executive and the Northern Ireland Assembly without any public consultation. We asked representatives was this their vision? We further asked were they prepared to implement a 2-tier health system and further dismantle our much loved NHS? If not, we asked them to support us and stop these plans.
2.The building development is a planning issuebut it is also a further attack on the delivery of NHS services and we ask you to publicly object and support our opposition. From a planning perspective it will cause further traffic congestion and parking issues and there were already associated issues in relation to sewage and flooding to an already horrendous situation in that part of South Belfast. We implored all MP’s/MLA’s and local councillors directly affected by these proposals to declare their opposition. We concluded the NIPSA correspondence by asking is this seriously what our MP’s/MLA’s and councillors are all about – profit before people? As a consequence of these actions a proposal was made by a Sinn Fein councillor whose word is affected by the proposals to defer any decision in terms of approval of the planning application and it was not necessary therefore for NIPSA to address at the meeting. NIPSA will continue to monitor the situation and be vigilant of any further proposals and will ensure that full scrutiny is given by the council to any such future planning applications.