The families of the six remaining dementia patients at Derry’s Slievemore Nursing Unit received a boost to their campaign today when Health Minister Edwin Poots announced the unit will not close at the end of this month as originally planned.
The families of the residents travelled to Stormont this morning to meet with Minister Poots, following representations from many local politicians including representatives of the SDLP. Sinn Fein and DUP.
A decision to close the unit was made earlier this year following the publication of a report by RQIA which stated the unit was not fit for purpose.
While some families moved their loved ones to private care facilities, the families of the remaining six residents are adamant that they do not want to see the unit closed.
Speaking to the ‘Journal’ Jane Dunton, whose husband Tony is one of the remaining residents, said the meeting offered them “more than they could have hoped for”.
“We had felt that our backs were against the wall and we were facing a public showdown, but now that the date of May 31 is out of the question we feel we have breathing space for the first time in a long time.
“We know we have not won the battle, but this has been a boost to us and we have been assured our case is very much at the forefront of the Minister’s agenda, on a par with the residential care homes.”
Following the meeting local MP Mark Durkan has called for the Minister for Health to reconsider closing the home.
Mr. Durkan said: “This was a good meeting in which the families put forward an emotional yet strong and rational case.
“Edwin Poots tried to defend RQIA, but conceded that there were conversations still to be had with both the Trust and RQIA.
“He was taken by a number of the families who were able to give strong testimony to the quality of care at Slievemore Nursing Unit, which is at variance with the tone of the RQIA report.
“According to the Health Minister, he will now be having conversations with the relevant authorities but has said that Slievemore will not be closing on 31 May and that that deadline is gone.”