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McGill challenges Department of Health on Home-Help cuts in Strabane

10 June, 2008

Sinn Féin West Tyrone MLA Claire McGill is challenging Department of Health denials that there has been a reduction in the allocation for home help services for the elderly in Strabane District saying that all evidence is pointing to a clear pattern of sweeping cuts being imposed on essential services to many people who are amongst the most vulnerable in our community.

The local MLA who is also a member of the Assembly's Health Committee said,

"In recent weeks I, along with other local Sinn Féin representatives, have been inundated with representations from distressed elderly people (or members of their family) seeking help after having been informed that their home help provision is being cut completely or at best being vastly reduced in terms of time and .

"I immediately raised this issue in a written question to Health Minister Michael Mc Gimpsey asking him to detail the reduction in Home Helps for the elderly in the District, asking how many clients will be affected by this reduction and asking what steps he is talking to address this reduction.

"However, in a totally disingenuous response the Minister said that the Western Health & Social Care Trust has advised that there had been 'no reduction in the allocation of resources for Home Help in the Strabane District Council Area' before stating that 'all clients in the area are assessed for Home Help services using Access criteria for Domicilary Care with services provided according to assessed need.

"How on earth can there be no reduction in the allocation of resources for Home Help in this area when so many clients are being told that they will no longer be eligible for Home Help, many others being told that their Home Help allocation time is being cut from 1 hour per day to 20 minutes and being told Home Helps will no longer be allowed to help with cleaning and laundry.

"These cuts are an attack on the most vulnerable in our community and I am challenging Minister Michael Mc Gimpsey and the Western Health & Social Care Trust to tell the truth about the dire situation that has now arisen because of the sweeping cuts they are making to this and other essential frontline services. This is despite promises from Michael Mc Gimpsey that frontline services would be protected from 3% efficiency services he directed each Health Trust to make.

"I will now be pressing the Minister and Trust to not only tell the truth about what is happening but also to take urgent steps to address the situation." ENDS

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