Ulster Unionist Party health spokesperson Roy Beggs MLA has reacted furiously to the announcement from the Health and Social Care Board that it is commencing yet another consultation on whether or not a number of care homes across Northern Ireland should be allowed to admit new permanent residents.
The East Antrim MLA said;
“Last year it was announced that most of Northern Ireland’s public residential care homes were being shut. The fact that a number of the Health and Social Care Trusts made very similar statements within a short space of time of each other, matters of days even, gave me the impression that the decision to close most of our statutory residential care homes was premeditated. Following a backlash from residents, their families and many ordinary members of the community, the Minister was forced into halting the flawed proposals.
“The future of these homes has always been dependent on the non-admissions policy, which is in place across many of them, being lifted. Without the ability to admit new residents, closure remains absolutely inevitable. Any argument otherwise is totally insincere.
“In some areas, such as the Northern HSC Trust it is over 2 years since a permanent resident was last admitted. By commencing yet another consultation process, the Health and Social Care Board are continuing to inflicting immense damage to these homes. They are not only limiting the number of places available for people who may wish to enter these homes, but they are forcing family and friends to travel longer distances to visit their loved ones and also putting jobs at risk. I know from family and friends who are and have been supported by these residential homes, of the high quality of care that is provided.
“In April this year the Health Minister also announced that he was carrying out his own review of the non-admissions policy. Where is that review now? Who exactly will make the final decision – the Minister or his unelected officials? Whatever the case, it is clear that this lack of leadership from the Minister is having a demoralising impact on staff and residents whilst having a financially disastrous impact on the viability of these homes.
“The Minister needs to come forward now, not next week or next month, and intervene. The Minister needs to take some control of the situation and he needs to instruct the Board and Trusts to lift their unfair and unjustified ban on permanent admissions immediately. Failure to do so will be seen as unforgiveable by many.”