Fears over Westlands as Minister confirms he will shut half of state-run homes

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THERE are fresh fears over the future of Westlands Residential Home after the Health Minister announced he would push forward plans to cut the number of state-run care homes here.

One hundred and eighty hospital beds are also to close in major changes to the health service.

The number of statutory residential care homes will be cut by half to 27.

Greater emphasis will be placed on providing care at home and on nurses working in the community.

Antrim Area Hospital will become the main ‘hub’ in the Northern Trust network, according to the plans, which will see the health service split into five area networks, reflecting the trusts.

Each network will have one main hospital or hub. While no hospitals are to close, each area will house one main emergency department.

Antrim Hospital will deliver all the core services including emergency, maternity and renal.

The Whiteabbey and Mid Ulster Hospitals will remain. However, people will be expected to travel to Belfast more.

The Causeway Hospital, Coleraine, is set to change. Doctors will provide emergency care and cater for other, fewer, specialities. But the major question is whether the Causeway will remain with the Northern Trust.

It is most likely to move to the western area, forming closer links with Altnagelvin.

In November Cookstown District Council said it would fight any plans to close the Residential Home following the controversial TYC proposals announced by the Health Minister.

Councillors said they were against the proposals which would see more people cared for in their own homes.

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.

Now the question is whether the residential home can be saved for a second time?