Key meeting secured for families of children with complex needs

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SDLP Foyle MLA Mark H Durkan has helped to secure a vital platform to give parents and carers of children with complex needs the opportunity to voice their concerns at a special meeting with representatives from the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT).

The meeting, which is due to take place on Friday December 5, will focus on the provision on the provision of respite services for parents of children with complex needs.

“Recently I learned that the WHSCT had told parents and carers of children with complex needs that they cannot guarantee respite services on the scale that they are currently being provided,” said the Foyle MLA.

“I am extremely concerned that any reduction in respite care for families in Derry will have a colossal impact both on children’s health and the health of their carers. After raising these concerns directly with the WHSCT at the Patient Client Council meeting last week, I received public assurances that the facility will remain open. However, as always the devil is in the detail. Trust representatives expanded that the facility will not be able to accommodate families as it had previously.”

Mr. Durkan explained that any suggestion of moving the respite care facility to Omagh would not be suitable and said asking children with complex needs to travel a long distance for the service could have a negative effect.

“While, I accept the WHSCT is facing financial pressures, I cannot accept suggestions that families with children with complex needs are able to transport their children to Omagh for respite care. We have a facility within the city, we need to increase that provision and enhance the service we can provide here in Derry. Asking families to travel is not only unfair and burdensome, it will actually in many cases have a detrimental impact on the health of the vulnerable child.”

Mr Durkan confirmed he had met with several local families who depend on respite care and explained that for many of these families the service is regarded as a “lifeline”.

“I have met with some of the families who rely on the Cottages, for whom respite care is a lifeline, it gives them a short break that is ultimately needed to ensure the mental health and wellbeing of the carer is also protected. From listening to their concerns, I have secured a meeting on Friday with the WHSCT to work to alleviate the despair and anxiety these families are experiencing. It is important that the Health Service hears and sees the reality facing these families, which is why it is useful that representatives have agreed to meet with myself and the families involved.

“Any parents or carers who have not been in contact with my office, can contact me on 02871365516 for further information. I am hopeful that together, we can save this vital service and enhance the care these families desperately need,” he added.