Skeagh House latest leads to another call to action

Skeagh House campaigners have answered last week’s inconclusive update on the Dromore home with another public call to action.

Fearful, it says, that, despite assurances to the contrary, the Southern Health Trust has already made its decision, the Skeagh House Action committee believes any hope of saving the home rests on galvanising local people, public representatives and community leaders in its defence.

The committee is therefore planning a public meeting in September. “By this time,” said the group’s Louis Boyle, “we hope that more definitive information is available on a permanent solution to the landslip behind the home.”

Mr Boyle said the committee had been content to await further developments following the landslip, recognising the Trust’s hands were tied pending a permanent engineering solution to the problem, but in response to the update provided to The Leader last week, he added, “The most recent statement from the Trust takes us no further on and we remain in a waiting game. It is important, however, that we remind the Trust that we continue to be concerned for the future of Skeagh House.”

Of greatest concern, he said, was the Trust’s April statement that a decision had already been taken by the Trust Board to stop any further admissions to its homes. “This in effect demonstrates that the Trust has already made up its mind on the issue and flies in the face of any assurances either from the Department or the Trust that no decision has been taken on the closure of its homes,” he said. “We are therefore writing to the Trust seeking clarification and will be copying our correspondence to the Minister and seeking his response.

The committee maintains that, with commitment from the Trust, there should be a future for Skeagh House in some form of residential care provision.

“The importance of daycare and respite care convenient to Dromore, as a back-up to relatives caring for elderly parents, and others, was stressed,” said Mr Boyle.

Meanwhile, the Northern Ireland Health and Social Care Board, now responsible for a new consultation process in relation to proposed closures, recently told the committee the matter remained with the Minister, Edwin Poots, and no timescale was available on the start of a new consultation process.

“It is important to remember,” said Mr Boyle, “the proposals set out in Transforming Your Care to close at least 50% of statutory residential homes have been only delayed and remain on the table.”