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9 months on top posts are still to be filled

No senior staff at centre

By Gráinne Brinkley

CONCERNS have been raised that two new multi-million pound health and wellbeing centres in West Belfast are without full-time management – nine months after they opened.

Beech Hall Wellbeing & Treatment Centre on the Andersonstown Road and the Shankill Wellbeing & Treatment Centre cost £27million to construct, with both opening in November last year to great fanfare.

However, a local health professional told the Andersonstown News this week that both centres are still “without centre managers and permanent reception staff” with the result that neither centre is being properly utilised.

“This contrasts sharply with existing centres in South and East Belfast that have senior staff in these roles,” said the health worker, who asked not to be named.  “This has led to both centres not being utilised fully to the benefit of the communities they are supposed to serve.

“Given the pressures on our existing hospital facilities, surely it would be beneficial to make use of these new state-of-the-art facilities to allow services to be decentralised from hospital sites? This is not going to happen if you have no centre managers to take the lead in a new configuration of service delivery.”

A spokesperson for the Belfast Trust said they were  “currently assessing the facility management requirements” for the Beech Hall and Shankill centres.

“There are senior professional managers for the services that are provided from these facilities on site. The receptions in both facilities are covered by both permanent and agency staff,” said the spokesperson.

“It is proposed that the Regional Cochlear Implant Service will move to Beech Hall by September 2012.  Paediatric Outpatients, currently provided at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children, plan to decant over the next six months [to Beech Hall].”

The spokesperson also added that proposals are currently being considered to move a Glaucoma Service, a Contact Lens Service and clinics for Low Visual and Visual Field to the Shankill centre by September this year.

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