‘We will fight to the death’

The Cottages Respite Care, Dungiven Road, Derry. DER4914MC059
The Cottages Respite Care, Dungiven Road, Derry. DER4914MC059

The father of a teenage boy who uses the Cottages residential respite care unit in Derry has said both he and parents like him will “fight to the death” to ensure adequate respite care exists in Derry for children with severe complex needs.

Last Friday SDLP MLA for Foyle, Mark H, Durkan revealed that Health Minister, Jim Wells, had given him a ‘strong indication’ that a positive outcome was likely for the local respite care unit but on the same day the WHSCT said that their review into how respite care is managed at the residential unit was continuing.

“The campaign and petition continue and will be ramped up again in the coming days.

“Every one of our families are fighters, we deal with setbacks and overwhelming adversity every day. We are Spartans. Our numbers may be small but we will fight to the death- we have to, we too have no other choice. We therefore call again on the right minded people of Derry to support our campaign and petition. Our links can be found on www.brokenwings.co.”

Mr. Gallagher went on to describe the most recent statement made by WHSCT as “bizarre” and their conduct thus far as “not good enough”.

“To be honest the families found WHSCT’s statement somewhat bizarre. We are not properly involved in any discussions and the facts remain that the plans conveyed to the families will see the facility closed for four days a week, and potentially the number of beds also cut to just four beds on the three remaining days. This is a 70% cut, plus many families have been told they will no longer be offered time at the Cottages, so, for them the doors are 100% closed. To pointedly reassure the public otherwise is very peculiar.”

“We appreciate this has been a red-letter week for the health service, but the way families are being strung out for months now without any indication is really not good enough, and living under this shadow is unnecessarily traumatic for vulnerable families and parents already struggling to cope. We welcome the Donaldson report however, which has been pretty blunt as to where the money is really being wasted, and comments equally directly on the poor manner in which the NI Trusts often conduct themselves in these kinds of review.”