| 13.5°C Belfast

OAPs 'worried' about health reforms

Close

Health Minister Edwin Poots was forced into a U-turn over residential home closures

Health Minister Edwin Poots was forced into a U-turn over residential home closures

PA

Health Minister Edwin Poots was forced into a U-turn over residential home closures

Northern Ireland pensioners are not convinced by controversial plans to reform the health service, it has been claimed.

Michael Monaghan, chair of the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament, said older people were concerned about the impact of changes such as the closure of state-run residential care homes.

"It is clear that older people are worried about the impact that these changes will have for them as they grow older and remain unconvinced that the resources are in place to achieve what is planned. The recent announcements regarding the closure of care homes and the subsequent reaction has emphasised the need for proper consultation with older people regarding any changes to the health and social care service," he said.

Earlier this month, Health Minister Edwin Poots was forced into a U-turn by huge public backlash against proposals to close NHS residential care homes.

Up to 200 elderly people gathered in Belfast for the seventh annual Pensioners Parliament.

A motion expressing serious concern about the proposed closure of statutory residential homes and calling for an urgent review to ensure a similar situation does not arise was put forward during the meeting.

Mr Monaghan said there should be increased consultation. "It is essential that older people's voices must be at the heart of any changes," he added.

Pamela McCreedy, director of the Transforming Your Care reform policy, told delegates that an ageing population and increasing demands on Northern Ireland's beleaguered healthcare system meant doing nothing was not an option. "For me there are difficult choices ahead, for the population there are difficult choices ahead and for the minister there are difficult choices ahead. But, if we do nothing and nothing changes there are also difficult choices ahead," she said.

Calls for the assessment of individual domiciliary care to include home help aspects with realistic timescales and the establishment of a dignity code for older people were also among the suggested healthcare motions.

The two-day Pensioners Parliament organised by the Age Sector Platform also raised issues around rising energy prices and crime.