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Minister must intervene to save North Antrim care homes – UUP

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Ulster Unionist representatives from North Antrim have requested an urgent meeting with the Health Minister in order to prevent the likely closure of the Roddens and Pinewood Care Homes. The Party’s North Antrim MLA Robin Swann, and Councillor for Ballymoney Darryl Wilson, have sought the meeting as the homes continue to creep towards a permanent closure as a result of the Northern Health Trust’s continuation of an arbitrary ‘non-admissions’ policy.

Robin Swann MLA said:

“These homes have been treated appallingly over recent years. Whilst it is true that former Ministers were forced to belatedly intervene and prevent previously announced closures, by continuing to prevent the homes from admitting any new permanent residents means they are simply now being closed by stealth.

“Outrageously, at the same time these homes are being continually downgraded, hundreds of older people are being forced to stay in local hospitals longer than they medically need to after treatment as a result of inadequate step down facilities and care packages. Recently I revealed that last year alone 2,700 hospital discharges were delayed at the Causeway Hospital and a further 9,700 at Antrim. The major contributory factor to the backlog was the failure by the Northern Trust to put enough care packages into the community, and as a result many older people are being unfairly labelled ‘bed blockers’.

“This is an issue I directly challenged the Health Minister on in the Assembly this week but she still failed to see the obvious necessities of keeping the Roddens and Pinewood open. I believe she, and her predecessors, have failed in their obligations to our older people.”

Councillor Darryl Wilson said:

“Both the Roddens and Pinewood Cares Homes are very highly regarded for not only providing top quality care, but also a welcome source of local employment in the Ballymoney and Ballymena areas for many years. If they were to close, it would devastate the local communities and see residents cruelly being sent further away from their loved ones.

“The way that the residents and staff have been treated over recent years has been reprehensible. It is wholly misleading for Health Ministers to say the homes were ‘saved’ as the ban on new admissions means the number of residents in the two homes continues to decline. I now fear it is only a matter of time before the Health and Social Care Board in Belfast conveniently finds that their artificially low resident numbers make them ‘unsustainable’. I am entirely confident that the demand for all these care home places exist in the community, they just need to be allowed to take them up.”

“The current Health Minister’s Party previously made a lot of noise when it was previously announced that the homes were to be closed. It is now time for Michelle O’Neill to step up to the plate and intervene to save these homes. Their future is entirely dependent on being allowed to admit new residents, and a long overdue commitment to bring the facilities up to modern standards.”

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