Threat to Derry residential home lifted

William Street Residential Home. 0105JM43
William Street Residential Home. 0105JM43

The Western Trust has confirmed that the threat hanging over a Derry residential home has now been lifted after the Department of Finance announced that new funding has been identified.

The Western Trust had been planning for a series of drastic measures after being ordered by the Department of Health to make £12.5m of cuts to its current annual budget.

The Trust Board, along with others across Northern Ireland, was tasked with coming up with a plan on where the axe would fall.

Overall, the Department of Health ordered £70m cuts across Northern Ireland, but the Department of Finance has now identified £40m to offset this.

While the local Trust will still have to make savings, it has been confirmed that the most controversial measures in the draft plan will now not have to be implemented.

These measures had included the closure of either William Street or Rectory Field Residential Home in Derry and relocating residents in one of the two facilities.

A spokesperson for the Western Health and Social Care Trust (Western Trust) said: “The Western Trust welcomes the additional money for health and social care in 2017/18.

“This means we will be able to remove the high impact savings proposals in our savings plan.

“The draft plan will be put to our extraordinary Trust Board meeting for approval this Friday 13 October 2017, along with the feedback from our consultation process.

“It will be recommended that the Trust accept no or low impact proposals in the savings plan.

“The proposals that will no longer be considered include: the temporary reduction in routine elective care, reduction in provision of domiciliary care packages, consolidation of residential and daycare services for older people and the remodelling of neo-natal services at South West Acute Hospital, Enniskillen.

“The Trust would like to extend its thanks to all of the individuals and groups who took part in the consultation process and made their views known.”

The Department of Finance today wrote to the Department of Health authorising it to plan on the basis of an additional £40million being available in this financial year.

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said: “This is hugely welcomed - the Health and Social Care, (HSC) system has faced significant budgetary pressures this year, which resulted in Trusts having to consult on savings plans of £70million, in order to meet the statutory obligation for the health and social care system to break-even.

The additional £40million will help towards reducing the amount of savings needed.”

The spokesperson added however: “The financial issues faced this year will only grow in intensity as we move forward. The initial assessment of the financial position for 2018-19 and 2019-20 is that pressures of over some £430million and £670million respectively will need to be addressed just to maintain existing services.

“Demand for health services is growing steadily, as people live longer lives, chronic conditions increase, and new drugs and technologies are developed.

“The HSC continues to face serious financial pressures and the £40million offers important short-term respite. However, the best long-term way to counter these pressures is transformation.

“It is absolutely imperative to pursue the reform of the system to safeguard vital services and ensure it is fit for the future.

“As the Expert Panel, led by Professor Bengoa reported, reform must be addressed in a systematic and sustainable way which is in parallel with improving the quality of services. Transformation plans must continue for our health and social services so that resources are used in the most effective way in the best interests of patients.”