Belfast Telegraph

Protest at Derry care home facing axe in health cuts

By Leona O'Neill

Protesters gathered in torrential rain outside a Londonderry residential home last night to oppose health cuts that could see its closure through merger with another old people's home.

They joined health workers, union representatives and politicians outside the Rectory Field Residential Home at Limavady Road to oppose the plans by the Western Trust.

The trust has been tasked to make savings of £12.5m as part of Department of Health savings of £70m.

The proposal to merge Rectory Field with a care home at William Street, closing one site and moving residents to the other, has caused outrage.

One Rectory Field worker, who did not want to be identified, said residents and staff were "greatly upset" by the proposal.

"We have residents in there from aged 70 to well into their 90s," she said.

"That is their home. The thought of moving from their home is shocking.

"They were assured that they could live out their days in Rectory Field. The spirits are low, everyone is down. They are upset, they are scared, they are annoyed, as are the staff."

People Before Profit's Shaun Harkin, who organised the protest, said that they wanted the trust to know that the public were against the cuts.

He said: "We are here today to send a message to the Western Trust that we do not think that either of these homes should be shut down.

"We know that the residents who live in both of these homes are happy there. They don't want to be moved.

"We don't think that it's good for elderly people to feel this kind of worry and trauma.

"If we look at what happened in Bell Gray Nursing Home, where quite a few of the people died within months of being moved out. We don't want to see that happen here. We feel like we are standing up for the health service. I have met nobody that supports the idea of cuts.

"People want to see more funding for the health service."

SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan joined the protesters after earlier speaking to staff who expressed concern over the impact of cuts.

"This is not just the closure of a building or the stopping of a service, This is the removal of people from their home," he said.

"And if you think of your own elderly parents or grandparents, if someone told them that they had to get out of their home, I don't think anyone would stand by and let that happen.

"It is important that we stand strong and resist any attempt to have these homes closed now."

The Western Trust is to hold a meeting on October 13 to discuss the savings plan 2017/18 consultation outcome.

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