Blatant disregard was shown to the residents of Westland’s when Una Cunning, director of older people services in the Northern Trust stated at Trust board that no residents were upset, in the same meeting I was prevented from questioning the board during the public questions session.
Further insult was levelled to the public in the actual consultation document that the Northern Trust presented that asked for our views on the closure of 10 residential home, 2 of the homes, Greenmount and Rathmoyle were both in the process of being decommissioned and removed, no matter what anyone said this would not and could not be changed, in a separate consultation process the Trust were also going to close the dementia unit in Moylinney, Monkstown which had 27 beds for elderly dementia sufferers, not counting Ferrand house that closed in 2012 for dementia patients due to it being flooded.
Let’s look at the facts, in order to run down the Mid Ulster A&E and inpatients the Trust bypassed the hospital, stopped ambulances taking patients there although those patients could have been treated in Mid Ulster. This gave them the chance to say that it was being used less, even though the demand was there. In terms of Westland’s and other residential homes the trust are not letting people into these homes as long stay residents so that they can come up with the same excuse that the demand is not there to keep them open. This is contempt by the Trust and those involved in stopping admissions to the homes should face immediate removal from their posts, as although these rooms are empty, they still have to be maintained and heated, it costs as much to keep them empty as to keep them full.
How many different consultations are going to be fired at the public and on elderly people to respond to before we see a clear cut picture on what is actually going to be provided by the Trust in the future. During the Transforming Your care meeting at Magherafelt Council it was not stated to local residents that Westland’s was potentially going to close and if those present had a view on this. In that meeting the public were bluffed with Visions of health instead of what was actually going to happen in health.
I cannot stand back from this issue anymore and will levy my weight at the Health & Social Care Board and Fionnuala McAndrew as the closure of these homes not only has serious implications for the residents who live there but also on the ability of Antrim Hospital to have to absorb more patients as a result of the closures.
Let’s get very real here, in the whole political outcry and response from the Health Minister there was no problem in closing these residential homes, the only problem Edwin had was in the way they tried to close them.
The closure of the Westland’s home not only comes at the cost of the residents there but also comes with the loss of 3 respite beds for local carers and 3 step up/down beds for patients from the Mid Ulster area to recover from a hospital session closer to their families. In its entirety if all the homes are closed this will result in the loss of 30 respite placements and 37 step up/down beds within the Northern Trust.
Within Antrim Hospital the problems seen at A&E are not due to the number of patients attending A&E, it is to do with the inability of patients to get admitted from A&E as there are no beds to put these patients in. This move without development in Antrim, Causeway or Mid Ulster hospitals will only heighten an already clinically dangerous situation that Antrim Hospital has been in since 2010.
Previous research carried out by Save The Mid that was presented to Cookstown Council showed that the last time Westlands was under threat it was found that during the review and scoring that Westland’s ranked joint 1st in homes to retain, this detailed scoring was based on: Accessibility & Location, Quality of Physical Environment, Inter-Dependencies/impact on other services, Flexibility for future development/diversification, Restrictions on privacy/existence of double rooms, Cost per bed per week.
How has Westland’s went from the number 1 home to save to the number 1 home to close in the space of 3 years, it is my view that Westland is a strong and well run facility and for the Trust to remove the weaker homes it must first topple the strong ones like Westland’s. This must not be allowed to happen and I will do everything I can to ensure that it does not. Mid Ulster has lost to many health services. Mid Ulster is our home it is time that Edwin Poots and the Health Trust start to comprehend that we should have parity in equality of services in Mid Ulster.
Other information put out by Save The Mid also shows that there are cracks in the financial sustainability of private care homes when they went as far as to take a judicial review to get more money from the health board, this review failed and we do not have to look so far to remember the Southern Cross Private Care collapse. And when it collapsed it was the statutory homes that were there as a safety net.
Westland’s is the only Northern Trust residential home that is west of the Bann can they really afford to lose it. The impact on other services in this scoring would in most involved the impact on Mid Ulster Hospital, with Mid Ulster Hospital all but gone this will now feed into Antrim.
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