£250m children's hospital for Belfast announced
Northern Ireland Finance Minister Simon Hamilton has announced that a new children's hospital is to be built in Belfast.
The £250m facility will replace the existing hospital on the Royal site in Belfast.
The announcement was made as part of a reallocation of unspent funds, mainly from the stalled A5 road project.
The Department of Health has been allocated £52m, £15.5m of which is to go towards the new hospital.
It is expected to be completed by 2020/2021.
The department has also been allocated £14m to address waiting lists.
Mr Hamilton said he had recently visited the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children and was "shocked and ashamed" by the conditions.
Building on the new hospital could begin next year.
Other health projects allocated money include:
- £1m for a paediatric centre of excellence at Daisy Hill Hospital in Newry
- £1million for a paediatric ward and ambulatory care unit at Craigavon Area Hospital.
- £900,000 to fund the co-location of the emergency department and GP out of hours at Lagan Valley Hospital
- £900,000 for two MRI scanners in the Southern Health and Social Care Trust.
- £3m for a new logistics and support centre for the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service.
Mr Hamilton has also given the green light to dualling the Frosses Road section of the A26.
Analysis: BBC NI health correspondent Marie-Louise Connolly
The building of a new children's hospital on the Royal site in Belfast has been one of the longest running sagas in the local health service.
It was first mooted back in the early 1990s, when NIO minister baroness Denton was health minister.
Since then Sinn Fein's Bairbre de Brún and Ulster Unionist Michael McGimpsey have attempted to make it happen.
Despite a new build at the front of the present children's hospital, other facilities inside it date back almost 100 years.
Once a business case is approved building, can start with an estimated completion date of 2021.
Despite years of wrangling over this money it took the DUP's finance and health ministers to finally make it happen. The Ulster Unionist's Michael McGimsey put out the begging bowl several times but funding was always turned down.
While the public and the hospital staff will not be concerned about where this money has come from - only that it is happening, on a wider note it highlights the benefits of having the DUP holding both the finance and health portfolios.
"The allocations I have announced today will leave a lasting economic impact on Northern Ireland, boost our economy as the recovery gathers momentum and provide assistance for vulnerable people in our society," Mr Hamilton said.
"I am especially pleased that we are able to fund a new regional children's hospital and significant strategic roads improvements."
Health Minister Edwin Poots said the money would help provide services fit for the 21st century for children.
"A replacement regional children's hospital is a major project that I have been keen to take forward, particularly as parts of the current facilities are nearly 100 years old," he said.
"Securing this additional funding from the executive provides me with the opportunity to move this much needed project forward to ensure that our children will receive their care and treatment in a modern paediatric environment."