Health Council ‘Confusion’ Over Care Home Plans

A HEALTH watchdog body has received 37 letters of opposition to proposals by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.over the future of five residential homes.

Initially, the Trust controversially stated that these care homes had been “identified for potential closure”.

Later, the health authority stated that they were in line for “replacement”.

These are Greenisland House; Lisgarel, in Larne; Clonmore in Newtownabbey; Rosedale, in Antrim and Rathmoyle in Ballycastle.

The letters received by the Northern Health and Social Services Council, which monitors the Trust, followed a meeting in Larne. These were from residents, relatives, concerned local people, a member of the clergy and a solicitor and pointed out flaws in the weighting system used to score Lisgarel, Larne, against other facilities and sought NHSSC support for keeping this facility open.

The Health Council met yesterday (Wednesday) to consider its response to the Trust’s proposals for the future of health and social care services.

At last month’s Health Council meeting, there was confusion over the future of the five statutory residential units.

According to its minutes, members believed that the units would close, yet say it now appears that “Trust thinking was to replace the units”.

Andrew Wilson said he understood that the “need to make efficiency savings had been the driver for the proposals so could not see buildings being replaced” while Carrick Councillor Jim Brown said there was now a “lack of trust in the Trust” and that this was “totally unacceptable” to the public.

He sought a definition of the word ‘replacement’ and members voted to send a letter seeking clarification from the Trust as to whether replacement meant physical replacement of buildings or replacement of services.

Rosemary Armstrong abstained from the vote. Chairman Tom Creighton and Chief Officer Noel Graham offered to meet the Trust’s Chief Executive Norma Evans to hear the response.

Noreen McClelland said she feared members were “losing focus” with so much emphasis on the residential units when in fact the proposals affected the whole of the service.

Tommy Nicholl advised members that the Trust planned to consider the comprehensive spending review proposals at its March meeting. The chairman encouraged members to attend.