Mixed reaction to Fort George Health Hub from Derry politicians
Politicians in Derry have outlined their views after land was secured for the planned cityside Health Hub at Fort George in Derry today.
Communities Minister Deirdre Hargey has agreed to the sale of land to the Western Trust for the ambitious £70m development which is expected to be located across half the 11 acre site.
The former army base was handed back from the ministry of Defence for public use over two decades ago along with the Ebrington site.
Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has welcomed progress toward the creation of the health hub.
The Foyle MLA said: “The announcement from the Communities Minister that part of the Fort George site will be used for the creation of a state-of-the-art health hub is great news for the city.
“This will bring together GP surgeries, social work, allied health professionals and other healthcare workers in one location.
“Not only will this lead to better healthcare for patients, it will also create 250 new jobs in a range of health roles.
“It will also open up a prime development site in the city to help it reach its full potential.
“I have been working with the ministers for health and communities on this issue and I’m delighted to see it take a further step forward and look forward to its delivery for the people of Derry.”
SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan however has expressed reservations about Fort George regeneration proposals.
The SDLP Communities Spokesperson commented: “While it would be foolish not to see the merit in a new health hub, particularly in the current climate, Fort George is perhaps not the most suitable location.
“People will no doubt see this announcement as falling short of earlier proposals, promises and plans. In short, it could be deemed a reduction in terms of ambition. I am of the opinion that this strategically important development site would be better utilised for something that adds real value economically to the city and beyond.
“However, that being said, I am acutely aware of the challenges facing our health service pre-pandemic. A system already at breaking point has struggled under the weight of the past year- this state-of-the-art facility will I hope, take pressure off that system and ensure the effective delivery of integrated health services for the surrounding areas. The creation of 250 permanent jobs is also good news, particularly in conjunction with the transfer of Health Sciences to Magee University, which I hope will encourage more students to train and remain.”