Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs has said that the lack of progress in replacing The Trust Residential Home Greenisland House does not bode well for the other NHS Trust Residential Homes in East Antrim, whose future is once again in question.
Mr Beggs commented;
“It was three years and a half years ago that the Northern Health Trust last proposed major changes in how care for the elderly was to be provided. Their initial efficiency saving plan to close all their residential homes was watered down after a consultation period which revealed considerable public opposition. The revised plan which was approved by the then Minister Michael McGimpsey saw no change to Lisgarel in Larne, and Joymount in Carrickfergus, while Greenisland House was to be replaced by a supported housing scheme built on site. During the consultation meetings, strong hints were given by Trust officials that new sheltered housing could be developed on the Lisgarel site. With that context, it is instructive to note what has, or has not happened to the Greenisland House site since the decision was made in mid 2009 to replace it with new sheltered housing.”
Mrs Beggs recently placed an Assembly question to Minister for Health, Edwin Poots, asking, “ what progress has been made in securing capital commitments and obtaining planning permission for new accommodation and services on the site of Greenisland House?”
The Minister’s reply refers to a working group looking at the issue, adding, “I can advise that the Trust is currently awaiting the appointment, by NIHE, of a housing provider to progress the planning of the build and application for planning permission with the expectation that will be completed during the financial year 2013/2014.”
Responding to this news Roy Beggs MLA said:
“Given that a decision to replace Greenisland House with sheltered housing on the site was made 3 years ago, it is clear that foot dragging has been the order of the day. There is talk of an ‘expectation’ that a planning application will be submitted in the next year or two, but there is no firm financial commitment that the new build will go ahead.
Now that the future of Joymount and Lisgarel is again on the table, vague promises of replacement with sheltered accommodation will be treated with both caution and scepticism. I remain convinced that there is a continuing need for an intermediate step between Nursing Home care and domiciliary care at home.”