Derry’s under threat care homes have been given a reprieve until at least 2015.
The Health and Social Care Board have confirmed that there will be no care home closures until 2015.
The announcement ensures a temporary reprieve for under threat residential facilities for the elderly at William Street and Rectory Field in Derry, Thackeray Place in Limavady and Greenfield in Strabane.
In May elderly residents took to the streets in protest when the Western Health and Social Care Trust announced plans to close all four homes as part of the Transforming Your Care Programme. The reaction prompted Health Minister Edwin Poots to announce a six-month stay of execution for the facilities.
At a public meeting in Belfast on Tuesday the HSCB confirmed that decision had been taken to maintain the homes until 2015.
SDLP Assemblyman Colum Eastwood said that some of the “most vulnerable” in society would be affected by any closures, adding that moves to shut the homes would be opposed. “I welcome the announcement as it provides some breathing space for the residents of homes such as those at William Street and Limavady Road but people remain very concerned about the potential closure of residential homes for the most vulnerable in our society.” He called on the Health Minister to ensure that decisions are made with the best interests of the residents “in mind”. “I will be keeping a very close eyes on this as it’s important that the local homes remain open.”
The HSCB has also confirmed that a ban on new admissions to the care homes is to be reviewed. On Tuesday morning, leading Health Service Union Unison demanded the ban be lifted before any further decisions are taken to close the homes.
“Since the start of October the Health and Social Care Board has held so-called ‘pre-consultation engagement meetings’ with residents and their relatives to discuss the criteria for assessing whether a home should close or remain open.
“In September however Unison revealed that the doors of most of the homes had already been closed to new residents,” a spokesperson said.