‘Crozier House must be defended at all costs’

Crozier House Banbridge. INBL1713-CROZIER2
Crozier House Banbridge. INBL1713-CROZIER2

Banbridge’s Crozier House residential home must be defended at all costs against any future threats.

That’s the message this week from a leading member of the now “defunct” Skeagh House Action Committee and one of the chief architects of the last defence campaign to save the Dromore home from proposed closure.

Resigned to what he believes to be Skeagh House’s certain closure under proposals announced last week, Louis Boyle was thankful that Crozier House at least was not on the list of 10 homes now facing the axe

However, the health authorities, he said, should be left in no doubt that any future threat there would be met with stiff resistance.

“Thankfully ,” he said, “Crozier House is going to be retained and people of this area andBanbridge should put down a marker to the Trust that under no circumstances will people allow the last statutory home in this whole area to close.”

Of Skeagh House, Mr Boyle said there was no chance it would ever re-open and public consultation on plans for permanent closure would be “meaningless”.

He accepted there had been no option but to shut down Skeagh House for the past two years, but its enforced closure, due to a landslip, had made it “so easy”, he said, for the health authorities to aim the axe.

Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson, meanwhile, attached more importance to the consultation.

“I believe it is vital we do respond to the consultation,” he said, “and make clear there is a continuing need for this type of facility in Dromore, to serve the needs of our senior citizens. “

Mr Boyle, though, is looking to future alternative use of the site. “Sadly what was an excellent facility, which for over 30 years has provided high standards of residential, respite and day care for older people and their families in the Dromore area, will now close on a permanent basis.,” he said. “They call it progress but no one will agree.

“For the future; maybe the site could be used as a mini-health village bringing together the overcrowded doctors surgery and other health, nursing and social care services.

“Secondly, people should demand that the savings from closing the home should be used to improve home-based care services in the area.”

The Health and Social Care Board last week approved proposals to initiate a consultation exercise to eventually close 10 of Northern Ireland’s 19 remaning NHS residential care homes.

A 12-week consultation exercise is to be undertaken by the health trusts over the summer, final recommendations to go back to the HSCB and then on to the Health Minister for final approval.

Trade unions Unison and NIPSA have both also spoken out against the closure plans.