Half state-run care homes to close
At least half of state-run residential care homes in Northern Ireland are to close under a proposed £70 million overhaul of the health service.
The move would see around 28 of the current 56 facilities shut their doors within five years, with at least 750 places being lost as a consequence.
Health Minister Edwin Poots insisted the proposal was not motivated by cost but instead part of his wider Transforming Your Care (TYC) reform agenda aimed at changing how care is delivered, with more emphasis on enabling older people to remain at home in their later years.
State-run residential homes account for around a quarter of the sector and privately-owned facilities would not be directly impacted by the proposal. Nor will homes that provide nursing care.
Outlining further details of the streamlining TYC blueprint, the minister also confirmed there would be job losses in the NHS.
Around 1,600 healthcare jobs (3% of the workforce) are set to go in the next five years. Mr Poots said he expected these to be managed without the need for compulsory redundancies.
The proposals were among a series outlined by Mr Poots to the Assembly as he provided more details on what TYC will potentially entail.
Another proposal was the creation of six mental health in-patient units at hospitals across Northern Ireland, with existing dedicated facilities closing.
Part of the rationale behind the plan is to eliminate the stigma patients may encounter by attending a site exclusively associated with psychiatric care.
The TYC plan envisages a reconfiguration of acute service provision in Northern Ireland with hospitals working together in five regional networks, each serving a population of around 400,000.