Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Muckamore response falls short

30 January, 2007

Sinn Féin General Secretary and South Antrim representative, Mitchel McLaughlin, has said that the response of British direct rule Health Minister Paul Goggins to the Muckamore Abbey crisis falls a long way short of what is required and called for the full implementation and resourcing of the recommendations set out in the recent Bamford Review into learning disability and mental health.

Mr McLaughlin said:

"There is a scandalously low level of commitment to our most vulnerable
children which is inexcusable. What is needed is for the Department and
primary care trusts to work together to develop and commission a
comprehensive and seamless range of services that offer choice and
independence to people with complex needs.

"Children, young people and adults who have complex health needs require
coordinated, high-quality and family-centred services which are based on
assessed needs, which promote social inclusion and, where possible, which
enable them and their families to live ordinary lives.

"This requires the co-ordination of services and prioritisation of their
needs by a number of professionals. For example, they may require nursing
staff, medical staff, social workers, pharmacists or behavioural nurses. No
one should underestimate the level of resources or co-ordination required to
support a patient with challenging needs in an appropriate community
setting, or the work needed to create such settings where they are not

"Without the proper investment in these services, these families will be
steered into a spiral of dependency and poverty.

"Generally there is inadequate commissioning of services, poor co-ordination
and a failure to properly plan ahead with young people and their families.
Families have to negotiate what is essentially a cats cradle of costly red
tape, but tightening eligibility criteria mean that incredible strains are
placed on parents to negotiate support from a system that rarely provides
what is actually needed. This results in delays, multiple assessments,
confusion and anxiety for all concerned.

"It will also be a waste of resources - as well as a waste of young people's
potential - if the support they are given as children is not continued into
adulthood, and if they end up in expensive residential care that restricts
their independence, often many miles away from their own home.

"For far too long many of those placed away from home have been invisible,
deprived of their right to communicate their concerns. Independent advocates
can help these persons to make informed decisions about their lives and can
also be a source of protection for children at risk in what is often a
closed system.

"Often, such patients have communication difficulties and need someone with
the time, patience and ability to help them to express preferences. It is
noticeable that Paul Goggins has totally failed to address this issue in his

"While the minister is issuing this knee-jerk action plan in response to the
wide public reaction to the circumstances at Muckamore Abbey Hospital, there
are also many more people with special and complex needs within the
community who are waiting for assessments and assistance that never seem to

"What is needed is the full implementation and resourcing of the
recommendations set out in the recent Bamford Review into learning
disability and mental health." ENDS

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