SDLP MLA for Foyle, Mark H. Durkan, believes that the Western Health and Social Care Trust (WHSCT) will not proceed with their plans to change the way in which respite care is offered to families of children with complex needs at the ‘Cottages’ respite unit in Derry.
Mr. Durkan revealed that in the last 24 hours he received an indication from Health Minister, Jim Wells, that the local service will be retained.
“I was very pleased today [Friday] after yet another conversation with Minister Wells during which he gave a fairly strong indication that a positive outcome could be imminent and that the Trust are actively working on the issue,” he said.
Mr. Durkan had been in regular contact with the minister over the last few weeks and conveyed to him the sense of frustration and anxiety that was being experienced by parents affected by the WHSCT to review how the respite unit operates.
“Over the past six or seven weeks I have been in constant contact with the Health Minister and the Trust over this proposal which has caused great distress to the families affected and anger and confusion across the wider public in Derry and beyond.
“Last week I, along with my colleague Pat Ramsey, met the CEO of the Western Trust to reiterate not only our opposition to any reduction in respite services but also to engage constructively in seeking alternative solutions mindful of their own financial pressures.
“This week we again pressed the Minister on the need to retain this vital service for vulnerable children and their hard-pressed families.”