Parents of terminally ill child call for ward to reopen
The Dundonald family of a terminally ill girl have called for the Ulster hospital's Maynard Sinclair paediatric ward to reopen.
The ward has been closed for almost a month due to staff sickness levels.
Jamie and Mark Pollock's three-year-old daughter Lacey has a rare, life-limiting but undiagnosed condition.
The family moved to Dundonald from Ballywalter seven years ago to be nearer the hospital.
Four of their children, aged between nine weeks and 13 years, have died due to illness similar to that affecting Lacey.
The Pollocks became concerned for Lacey on Wednesday evening and decided to call an ambulance.
She was taken to the Accident and Emergency Department in the Ulster Hospital.
Jamie Pollock stayed there with Lacey until 23:00 GMT before being offered a bed in a paediatric ward almost 40 miles away in Craigavon Area Hospital, County Armagh.
However, she said that the family were "too scared" for Lacey to be taken to Craigavon as "that ward doesn't know her".
The family felt that they had "no other choice" but to take their daughter home.
Their situation was complicated by the fact that neither Mr nor Mrs Pollock drive, added to which they have a severely autistic son and a nine-month-old baby.
Jamie Pollock said she was "very worried" about the continued closure of the Maynard Sinclair ward, which Lacey attends regularly.
'Staff are fantastic'
The Pollocks feel the staff at the Maynard Sinclair "know Lacey best and that is where she should be".
Just four months ago, Lacey stopped breathing and her life was saved by staff at the Ulster Hospital.
Jamie Pollock said: "The staff are fantastic, they are like family, we love them to bits, Lacey loves them too."
The Pollocks have called for the ward to be reopened.
Mark Pollock said: "It's the only one there for us, it's where we trust."
Jamie Pollock added: "Something needs to be done or something will go seriously wrong."
The family's four children who died from similar illnesses to those afflicting Lacey all used the Maynard Sinclair ward.
In a statement issued on Thursday, the South Eastern Trust said: "Lacey was seen this morning by our community paediatric team and we are entirely satisfied that she was given the appropriate treatment she required.
"Maynard Sinclair ward remains closed, however paediatric medical services are still available at the Ulster Hospital.
"All children are assessed on a case-by-case basis.
"Appropriate treatment and management is determined by senior staff to ensure the safety of all children remains our priority.
The trust added that it was "happy to discuss the issues raised directly with the [Pollock] family".