Why the DUP U turn on NHS Trust Residential Homes Closures?

East Antrim Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs has stated that the Health Minister’s statement to the Assembly on ‘Transforming Your Care’ has generated more questions than answers.

Mrs Beggs said;” Just like last week when I raised questions during a debate about Health and Social Care in my East Antrim constituency, Minister Poots has been less than explicit in his answers about the implication of the Transforming Your Care (Compton) Report.  He does not seem to have answers to the specific concerns I have raised about early discharge from hospital, and Trust residential homes which can be vital in providing rehabilitations service prior to patients being discharged safely back to their homes.

Questioning Minister Poots on the proposal to phase out statutory residential care homes, Mr Beggs said:

“From family experience, I am aware of two elderly people who were returned to their homes following hospital treatment with very limited independence and mobility.  Within a short time, GPs had to be called and ambulances returned those people to hospital before both were successfully rehabilitated at Clonmore residential home.  If, as is the case in the draft plan, Clonmore, Lisgarel and Joymount residential homes were to close, how would such patients be successfully rehabilitated?  How are the existing patients to be cared for?”

In replying the Minister referred to a new private intermediate care facility having opened near Antrim Area hospital but did not directly answer the question about existing Trust Residential Home patients.

Speaking before taking up his appointment to the Stormont Health Committee, Mr Beggs said; “Minister Poots needs to drop the official speak and really spell out what he means.  The contrast between what he is saying about Residential Homes now, and what he was saying when Michael McGimpsey was Health Minister is stark and so far unexplained.

On Tuesday Mr Poots said “many of our residential care homes were built in the quite distant past.  Many do not meet the standards for room sizes, overhead hoists and so forth that would be available in many other facilities.  I cannot ask members of the public to use a facility owned by the public that is perhaps not as good as a facility that is available in the private sector.”

This is a far cry from his comments in a Stormont debate before he was Minister.  He said at that time “If we go down the route of doing away with statutory residential care, we could end up with a situation similar to that in England, where care in residential private nursing homes is of a much lower standard than we would expect for our elderly people.”

We need an explanation; what has changed Minister Poots’ mind?


Note to Editors

Edwin Poots Proposed a DUP motion in the Assembly on 23 February 2009 entitled, “”That the Assembly expresses its opposition to the proposed closure of residential care homes by a number of Health and Social Care Trusts; and calls on the Minister of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to intervene and listen to the concerns of the community and take appropriate action to minimise the pain, stress and anxiety that this uncertainty has created among elderly care home residents, their families and health workers.” http://archive.niassembly.gov.uk/record/reports2008/090223.htm

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