Cookstown Council: ‘We will fight any plans to close Westlands’
By Patricia Devlin
COOKSTOWN District Council has said it will fight any plans to close Westlands Residential Home following controversial proposals announced by the Health Minister.
A proposed £70 million overhaul of the health service has set out plans to slash state-run homes by almost fifty percent.
The move would see around 28 of the current 56 facilities shut their doors within five years, with job losses and at least 750 places being lost as a consequence. Westlands Residential Home in the town is one of those under threat and at Tuesday night’s full council meeting councillors vowed to fight to retain the service.
Health Minister Edwin Poots has defended the proposals, which he said was motivated by the Transforming Your Care (TYC) reform agenda aimed at changing how care is delivered, and not cost.
He said there would be more emphasis on enabling older people to be cared for at home in their later years.
Vowing to fight the plans, Sinn Fein Vice Chair, John McNamee, who chaired Tuesday’s meeting, said; “I know for a fact that there are some people who cannot be cared for in their own homes.”
Ulster Unionist Trevor Wilson said council needed to approach the Northern Health and Social Care Trust and request a “straight and honest” answer on the proposals.
“When the Trust were here presenting the TYC document, there was no detail or bones on this. It might do no harm to contact the Northern Trust for a straight and honest answer on the bone of these proposals.
“That figure today was not plucked form the air. There must be some discussion on it and I think it would be beholding of the Northern Trust to inform elected representatives. I don’t think a wishy-washy answer at this stage will suffice.”
This is not the first time the town centre care home has been under threat. Shake up proposals announced by the Northern Trust five years ago put the future of the home in uncertainty because of its age. However elected representatives successfully fought off the plans.
At Tuesday night’s meeting, councillor McNamee also revealed that town centre representatives had been sent anonymous letters on the future of the town’s Adult Centre.
Councillor McNamee said the letter expressed fears over services there.
Councillor McNamee said: “We must fight for the retention of services at both Westlands and the Adult Centre.”
Chief Executive Adrian McCreesh, along with representatives agreed to take time to formulate a detailed response on the issue to the Trust on the plans.
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Weather for Dungannon
Saturday 18 May 2013
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