Multiple Sclerosis respite unit at Dalriada Hospital 'is set to close'
Northern Ireland's only dedicated multiple sclerosis respite unit is to close until March 2015, the MS Society says.
The Regional Multiple Sclerosis (MS) Respite Centre at Dalriada Hospital in Ballycastle, County Antrim, has 12 beds where patients can get respite.
More than 4,000 people in Northern Ireland are affected by MS.
Patricia Gordon, Director of the MS Society in NI, said she was "deeply concerned".
"There are more than 4000 people living with MS in Northern Ireland - one of the highest rates in the world - and yet MS services have been dramatically reduced in recent months causing serious distress for local families," she added.
"Regular, appropriate breaks, are crucial for maintaining the wellbeing of carers and people with MS. Inadequate respite provision can lead to declining health, increasing pressure on carers and unnecessary and costly hospital admissions.
"Rumours have been circulating for years about the future of the MS Regional Respite Unit in Dalriada Hospital, Ballycastle, and this announcement is a devastating blow for people who rely on this service. "