Derry City Council has called on the Western Trust to consult more widely locally before taking forward any measures under its Transforming Your Care agenda.
Despite unionists abstaining, a motion to this effect was voted through at the February meeting of Derry City and Strabane District Council in the Guildhall on Thursday.
It was proposed by SDLP Councillor Brian Tierney that the the council “recognises the vital community service delivered by the Trust via local partnerships; expressed concern that frontline services will be impacted due to budgetary constraints and the implementation of the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety’s Transforming Your Care Initiative; and calls on the WHSCT to consult with local partnerships and stakeholders preceding any implementation proposed Transforming Your Care measures”.
Speaking to the motion, Colr. Tierney said: “The threat to vital community services as a result of budgetary pressures on the provision of health and social care is deeply concerning.
“There are more than 20 local community organisations across the rural and urban council area which work in conjunction with the Western trust to deliver essential services for our older people and vulnerable members of the community.
“It is imperative that groups such as the Red Cross, Age Concern, Carnhill Resource Centre and Strabane Day Care are given the support needed to continue the delivery of these valuable services.”
Before a vote was taken on the motion, DUP Councillor Hilary McClintock asked the word ‘could’ to be substituted in place of ‘will’, while Independent Councillor Paul Gallagher asked for the word ‘constraints’ to be changed to ‘cuts’. Both changes were agreed to by Colr. Tierney.
Sinn Fein Councillor Paul Fleming said his party would be supporting the motion and called for the protection of the health health budget, while acknowledging that the ongoing cuts to the block grant imposed in the north by the coalition in London.
Colr. McClintock defended the Transforming Your Care reform programme, which she said was focused on putting the individual at the heart of the health service.
Independent Councillor Darren O’Reilly pointed to the current Trust consultation on day care for elderly people, which he warned included proposals to close one Derry centre.
Due to the insertion of the word ‘cuts’, UUP Councillor Derek Hussey said his party would not be supporting the motion.
All nine unionists present abstained, while the 27 Sinn Fein, SDLP and Independent Councillors backed the motion.