Belfast Telegraph

Derry care home facing axe after trust cuts

By Donna Deeney

Fears have been raised over the future of two care homes in Londonderry following news of major reductions to health spending.

Either the Rectory Fields or William Street units face closure as part of a £12.5m cut facing the Western Trust.

It must slice almost 18% of its budget following £70m of cuts imposed on all five trusts by the Department of Health.

A proposal by the Western Trust to close one or other of the homes will result in upheaval for residents and could mean job losses.

Geraldine Doherty, whose 93-year-old mother Isobel O'Doherty moved into the William Street care home in recent weeks, said even the consultation process will be traumatic for residents.

She said: "My mother only moved into William Street in May from sheltered accommodation but she settled in so quickly and loves being there.

"We actually thought we had won the Lottery when we were told there was a place available for her, but that has now been turned on its head.

"It was difficult hearing the news that the home could now close because from as soon as we walked in the door with my mother the welcome she was given by the staff was incredible.

"She loves being there and the level of care and attention she gets from the staff is second to none, which makes the possibility of her having to leave all the more traumatic.

"It is just terrible. My mother has worked all her life right up to she was 65 and then she worked part-time in the parochial house until after her 80th birthday.

"She has not had it easy, she worked hard, paid her dues to society and here we are now at the time when she should be worry-free, but the uncertainty and upheaval she is facing is so unsettling.

"She has been badly affected by the very idea of this and she doesn't deserve to be left with this amount of worry, but I feel for the staff as well because it isn't easy for them too.

"This is indicative of the whole system in Northern Ireland - it is cuts, cuts, cuts everywhere and the politicians don't seem to realise it is down to them."

It is the second time in two years that the trust put forward proposals to shut William Street and Rectory Fields.

In 2015 the trust bowed to public pressure and kept both open, and a similar people-led campaign is expected this time.

Alan Law from the Nipsa trade union said the proposed cuts to services within the Western Trust were "draconian".

"These proposal will include the closure of 70 hospital beds, closure of either William Street Residential Care Home or Rectory Fields, delays for domiciliary care packages and delays for care home packages," he said.

"The list of services which will be impacted by the draconian cuts imposed by the Department of Health are so wide-ranging that it is simply terrifying."

Claire Ronald, vice-chair of the NIC-ICTU health committee, which leads on the health policy development for the wider trade union movement, echoed his comments.

She blamed the current political stagnation for the cuts facing all five health trusts.

"The latest funding crisis facing the health service in Northern Ireland is the consequence of a political crisis," she said.

"In the absence of a return to Stormont, the responsibility must be placed at the top of the Department of Health and the only ministerial oversight we have, and that means the Secretary of State James Brokenshire."

Belfast Telegraph

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