Westlands Residents angry at new consultation process

Stephanie Greenwood, Northern Health Branch Secretary with Westlands resident Clifford
Stephanie Greenwood, Northern Health Branch Secretary with Westlands resident Clifford

A RESIDENT of Westlands Residential Care Home in Cookstown has said the latest letter they have receieved from director of Social Care and Children, Fionnuala McAndrew has made them ‘very sad.’

He said: “I felt very sad when I got that letter. To me it just defines that they are going step by step towards closure and that Mr Poots has reared the ugly head of closure again, after telling me when he came to the home that he was going to keep it open. When we went to Stormont he hadn’t the nerve to come down and meet us, when most of the other MLA’s did come down and see us, when we were there.”

Residents this morning received a letter from Fionnuala McAndrew, director of Social Care and Children outlining the process that is going to take place for the next phase in terms of the residential homes. The letter outlines that a new period of consultation will be taking place.

Fionnuala McAndrew said that the new consultation will be ‘more transparent’ and they will work with individuals concerned in this process.

A representative for Trade Union UNISON told the MAIL that from the Union’s perspective, they believe the consultation process is ‘basically a non-consultation’.

Stephanie Greenwood, Northern Health Branch Secretary said: “As well as the letter, we have also been in receipt of notes from the Northern Health and Social Care Trust ,Special Care Council advisory notes and the consultation is really a non-consultation process. It is leading the residents and the staff up the garden path once again. They are in total confusion as to what is going to happen.

“Our interpretation of those notes would be that they are still full steam ahead on the closures. As far as the social care board is concerned they have taken none of the views of the residents to heart to this point in time, nor the members of the public, not the thousands of people who have signed the petitions, not the staff. They have taken none of that on board and from that letter and the notes that the Northern Health and Social Care council we interpret that they are not going to and we are asking them why not.

“We are calling on Mr Poots to stand up and be counted this time and we are calling on all MLA’s that stood in Stormont with these residents a few months ago and said they would support them in keeping these homes open, to have their voices heard loud and clear now.”

Westlands Resident Clifford said he believes that despite the new consultation the final step will ‘still be closure’: “According to that letter, they seem they are going to have this discussed and that discussed, step by step, and the final step will be that it is going to close, unless the union and all get together and battle it out and make him change his mind. We need to get in touch with whoever is organising these meetings and get someone to go to these meetings to speak on our behalf and hear what is going on before a final decision is made.”

Ms Greenwood added that UNISON pledge their full support and commit to back the residents and staff and members of the public to keep Westlands open.