New Regional Hospital for Women and Children Working Group
The Committee considered the undernoted report:
“Relevant Background Information
Members of the working group will recall that the Council, at its meeting on 1st July, 2009, passed unanimously the following Notice of Motion:
‘Belfast City Council calls on the Minister for Health, Social Services and Public Safety and the Northern Ireland Executive to make the completion of the new regional hospital for children and women, on the site of the Royal Group of Hospitals, a matter of top priority in the next comprehensive spending review.
The Council calls on the Minister of Health and the Executive to secure the resources now for clearing the site, which is an essential first step in progressing the new hospital for children and women. The Council agrees to work in partnership with the Royal Maternity Hospital Liaison Group to lobby the Northern Ireland Executive and Assembly to secure the capital funds necessary to build the new regional hospital for children and women.’
A series of discussion followed leading up to a meeting of the Strategic Policy and Resources Committee on 12th December, 2008, at which the following was agreed, and ratified at the full council meeting in January 2009:
(a) expenditure, up to a maximum of £20,000, in respect of the above-mentioned campaign to be approved under Section 115 of the Local Government Act (Northern Ireland) 1972, it being the opinion of the Committee that the expenditure would be in the interest of, and would bring direct benefit to, the District and the inhabitants of the District, with the Committee being satisfied that the direct benefit so accruing would be commensurate with the payment to be made;
(b) a fixed-term Working Group, comprising one Member from each of the Political Parties represented on the Council, be appointed to consider the most appropriate means of taking forward the campaign; and
(c) a report on the recommendations of the Working Group in this regard be submitted in due course for the consideration of the Committee.
On 19th May the Members of the Working Group undertook a visit to the Royal Maternity Hospital and received a presentation from representatives of the Belfast Trust which had been attended also by Maternity staff and a representative of the Royal Jubilee Maternity Liaison Committee. In addition, the Chairman (Councillor Attwood) and other Member of the Working Group had, on 24th August met with the Health Minister, Mr. Michael McGimpsey, in order to outline the Council’s support for the provision of a new regional hospital. The Minister had indicated that, due to funding constraints, the Department could not progress the development at the Royal Group of Hospitals site earlier than 2015. However, the Department was actively seeking the Executive’s support to accelerate the process.
The working group asked the Head of Corporate Communication to develop a potential action plan and consider how best to utilise the small budget of £20,000 to promote a campaign aimed at bringing the date forward for the building of the hospital. This paper offers some suggestions as to how an action plan to support the campaign might look.
The working group discussed the most effective approach and decided that the £20,000 that council agreed should be spent on supporting the management of a sustained campaign, the purchasing of materials, such as bannering, and the placing of any required advertising. This would be supplemented by web, media and design activity which could be provided from within the existing resources of Corporate Communications.
It is proposed that an action plan involving activities on a monthly basis be developed and among the proposals put forward by the Head of Communications are:
· Lord Mayor visit first baby born in the Royal Victoria in 2010 (first child of the decade) and makes a statement saying that she hopes it won’t be the beginning of the next decade before the new Maternity and Children’s Hospital is in place.
· Meeting with local media to discuss how they might support the campaign
· A feature in City Matters providing information and a platform for the case to be made for the hospital.
· Develop an information section on our web site
· The council is currently successfully utilising Twitter and Facebook and we could announce a new forum to allow members of the public to put forward their views on this issue.
· A letter is written to all other local authorities in Northern Ireland asking for their support for the campaign on the basis that this is to be a regional hospital.
· Take out an advertisement in all three daily newspapers in which all councillors sign up to calling for work on the hospital to be brought forward
· Negotiate with broadcasters for a potential ‘on air’ debate on radio or television
· Host an exhibition in the City Hall in the coffee shop area or in Rotunda, showing plans for the hospital and ask public to sign a petition supporting it.
· Press could be updated as numbers signing up reach significant figures.
· Dress the City Hall in banners highlighting the campaign and subsequently moved to the roads approaching Stormont
· Timed press releases – for example at Christmas time saying that the best present for children of Belfast would be new hospital.
· Platform pieces from health/paediatric spokespersons and politicians in local press
· Political lobbying, meetings with Ministers and associated publicity
· Letters to the editor
· ‘Open letters’ to the Executive released to the media
· Good news stories about children being treated for illness
· Visits to the maternity/children wards at key times
· Responding to news stories/assembly debates.
It is further proposed that the all party Working Group continues to meet to oversee the campaign, approve activities, oversee expenditure and evaluate its success.
£20,000 already approved by Council in January, 2009.
The committee approves:
· The Working Group’s recommendation that the funding agreed by the council be used to support a sustained communications campaign by undertaken and managed by Corporate Communications
· The continuation of the Working Group to oversee campaign activities, expenditure and evaluation.”
The Committee adopted the recommendations.
- New Regional Hospital for Women and Children Working Group, item 8c PDF 83 KB View as HTML (8c/1) 55 KB