O’Neill welcomes review of mental health and learning disability services in Belfast

Health Minister Michelle O’Neill has welcomed the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust’s intention to look again at its plans for mental health and learning disability day services in Belfast.

The Trust made this commitment following an extensive public consultation process on proposals to re-shape and improve current day service provision.

Minister O’Neill said: “Shortly after taking up office this year, I visited two day centres in Belfast to hear first-hand the concerns of service users and carers, specifically about potential closures. I was genuinely struck by the passion with which those concerns were expressed to me.

“I said at that time that the views of the public had to be taken into account. I am therefore very pleased that they have been and that the Trust now intends to review its plans.”

On 21 June, the Trust published its key findings from the consultation and its recommendations to maintain current day centre provision while jointly producing new plans for the future with people who use day services and their carers earlier in the summer. Alongside this will be the development of a new fund to extend the range of community based activities currently available, also known as day opportunities.

Having asked for the process to be expedited to provide certainty for those affected by the original proposals, the recommendations have now been endorsed by the Health and Social Care Board and will be taken forward by the Trust.

The Minister continued: “Of course, the challenge over the coming weeks and months will be for the Trust to come up with new sustainable plans, crucially with input from local communities, to re-shape and deliver agreed improvements to day services across Belfast.

“My Department will be closely involved in this process. I particularly welcome the Trust’s commitment to jointly plan agreed improvements with the people who use these services and their carers.  For my part, I plan to monitor this work closely and will be receiving regular updates on the progress being made.”

The Belfast Trust consultation outcome reports on mental health and learning disability day services can be found here.