The Southern Health and Social Care Trust broke its word over Crozier House and has lost public trust, local MLA Sam Gardiner has claimed.
Speaking during an Assembly debate on Transforming Your Care, the new blueprint for the health service in the future, Mr Gardiner criticised the treatment of residents of Crozier House in Banbridge.
“It would remiss of me, as an MLA for Upper Bann, not to mention Crozier House in Banbridge.
“That home, whose residents I have visited many times, is cherished as much by the local population as it is by its residents.
“It is a great home with superb staff. I want to record my thanks and appreciation for them.
“At the time when the consultation on closing Crozier House, along with the other four homes that are managed by the Southern Health and Social Care Trust, was announced, Angela McVeigh, the trust’s director of older people and primary care services, said that the trust was committed to working closely with each resident and his or her family individually.
“I am sorry, Minister, but that did not happen. Families were left shocked by the scale and suddenness of the plans.
“Most shamefully of all, patients were being told that they may have to move many miles just to find the next available bed.”
Mr Gardiner said: “That is why I am sure that lasting damage has been done to local people’s faith in the trust. It will take much hard work to win back people’s confidence.
“I am sure that the Minister agrees with me that the trust needs to start working on rebuilding public confidence now.”
He went on to say: “It is really the management of our health service rather than the direction of it that I have greater concerns about at present.
“In particular, I want to warn the Minister about what I call ‘mission creep’. I believe that a far tighter rein needs to be kept on health service bureaucracy, particularly in the various health trusts.
“In the case of older people’s care homes, the trusts have gone well beyond the intentions of the Minister, the Committee, MLAs and policymakers.
“I am concerned that bureaucrats are running ahead of public policy on many fronts by proposing cost-effective cuts without due regard for care. Care is what the health service is really about.”