The opening of a new intensive care unit at the Royal Victoria Hospital in Belfast won’t happen until next year, it has emerged.
The Department of Health has stressed that the new unit will not open until “the facility is of the required high standard before patients can be admitted safely”.
The ‘Critical Care Building’ was originally due to open in 2012 but the project has suffered from a series of delays over the years.
The fresh delays, reportedly due to ventilation issues, were first reported by the BBC yesterday morning.
The Department of Health at Stormont, in a statement to the News Letter, insisted that the project remains within budget.
A spokesperson said: “It is important to ensure that the facility is of the required high standard before patients can be admitted safely.
“The Department is assured that every patient who requires critical care has access to high quality appropriate treatment in the interim.
“The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust has and continues to update the Department as appropriate on matters regarding delays to the full opening of the building.
“Whilst remedial and additional works to the facility have been necessary, costs to date remain within the approved investment for the project.
“As with all capital projects, the trust will be required to conduct a Post Project Evaluation which, in this case, will include a review of the events that took place and any lessons learned.”
Paula Bradshaw, the Alliance Party MLA, said the delays facing the new unit should have come under the scrutiny of a Northern Ireland Assembly at Stormont.
“There is no minister in place and there is no health committee at Stormont asking questions about this,” she said.
“It’s yet another factor that shows the need to get our Executive back up and running and get this project moving.”