‘Treat the people of Mid Ulster with the respect they deserve’ - Overend on care home closures

Campaigners hold aloft a banner at the public meeting which was held'at Westlands Residential Home in Cookstown
Campaigners hold aloft a banner at the public meeting which was held'at Westlands Residential Home in Cookstown
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Two Mid Ulster politicians have voiced their concerns over the potential closure of Westlands Home, now that it is back in the Health and Social Care Board’s [HSCB] sights.

Yesterday the board declared its intention to close or re-utilise 10 of the 19 NHS Care Homes in operation across Northern Ireland.

Sandra Overend Mid Ulster MLA

Sandra Overend Mid Ulster MLA

Westlands in Cookstown and also Roxborough House in Moy are on that list and over the summer will take part in a 12-week consultation, after which the HSCB and Health Minister Simon Hamilton will make their decisions.

After a successful campaign to keep Westlands open last year, then Health Minister Edwin Poots said that as long as residents wanted to stay there he would keep it open.

Mid Ulster MP Francie Molloy has hit out at this move following that “public pressure”, while UUP MLA Sandra Overend has said she is “hugely disappointed that the HSCB has recommended a phased closure of Westlands Care Home”.

Sinn Fein’s Mr Molloy said: “The fact that the matter had been withdrawn not too long ago following public pressure seems not to have bothered the Trusts one bit. The issues on the ground have not changed and this is still what it was seen to be – a blunt cost cutting exercise by the Health Trusts.”

Francie Molloy, Mid Ulster MP

Francie Molloy, Mid Ulster MP

While Mrs Overend, added: “Threats to close Westlands were met by a pledge from the then Minister for Health, Edwin Poots, to ensure that no one in the home would be forced to move out against their will.

“At that time I warned that the Minister’s commitment was akin to closing Westlands by stealth, as he stated that no more permanent residents would be permitted to move there.”

In defence of the move, a spokesperson for the Health and Social Care Board said: “The review of these homes is still an ongoing process and no final decisions have yet been made.

“The proposals now mean appropriate local consultation will be progressed by Trusts.

Health Minister Edwin Poots and DUP MLA Ian McCrea pictured with staff and residents of Westlands

Health Minister Edwin Poots and DUP MLA Ian McCrea pictured with staff and residents of Westlands

“Some Trust Statutory Residential Care Homes will be retained, some will be considered for alternative use and others are proposed for closure.”