Report into nursing home to be published in January

A report setting out the findings of a review into the care at a Carrickfergus nursing home will not be published until the new year.

Cherry Tree House came under fire after a whistleblower made several allegations regarding quality of care, safeguarding and employment issues at the North Road nursing home.

Last week, it emerged that Health Minister Edwin Poots had ordered a review into how the claims had been handled.

In a statement, the Department indicated the minister had commissioned the Regulation and Quality Improvement Authority (RQIA) to provide ‘independent assurance’ that all necessary steps had been taken in response to concerns over care at the home since 2005.

“The review will identify any gaps in the investigations and make recommendations on how these should be addressed. In so doing, the review will consider information held, and action taken by my Department, the Health and Social Care Board, HSC Trusts, PSNI and RQIA,” the statement continued.

The Department highlighted that the review team, which had been engaged by RQIA, “have relevant experience but does not include any individual who has previously been engaged in work relating to Cherry Tree”.

However, the department confirmed that the findings of the report, which were to be provided to the minister by November 30, will not be published until the new year.

“The minister agreed last week to an extension for the review; the report is now due at the end of January,” a spokesperson said.

Meanwhile, a statement issued on behalf of management at Cherry Tree House moved to reassure the public that it “continues to work to provide appropriate, safe and effective care delivered with skill and compassion to all residents.”

The statement continued: “Over the past number of years there have been repeated claims made by a former member of the care staff, not only about Cherry Tree House but also the regulatory authority’s decision year after year to license the nursing and care home.

“These claims have led to Cherry Tree House receiving more visits and scrutinised more closely than in the normal course of events. Cherry Tree House Nursing Home relies on RQIA to ensure we meet best practice in all areas of our work. Where shortcomings have been identified, these have been addressed in line with the requirements of our regulators.

“In this regard Cherry Tree House is no different from any other facility which is licensed to provide healthcare facilities. We appreciate the Department of Health’s whistleblowing policy and the decision to appoint an independent panel to review the regulatory systems. We look forward to the conclusion of that investigation, though unfortunately that work will not be concluded until the new year.”