Private company withdraws homehelp service

Pensioners are among those who have had their homehelp packages withdrawn in Ballycastle (posed picture)
SeanĂ­n Graham

CONCERNS have been raised over the sudden withdrawal of an NHS-funded home-help service in a rural Co Antrim town.

Almost 30 elderly and vulnerable people in the Ballycastle area were affected by the axing of the scheme, which was supplied by a private firm but funded by the Northern health trust.

While alternative arrangements has been put in place for the majority of clients, a councillor said it was a "lesson learned" for the trust.

Over the past five years the majority of homehelp services across the north’s five health trusts have been contracted out to the private sector to make them more 'cost efficient', a controversial move criticised by trade unions.

Cara McShane, a Sinn Féin councillor in Ballycastle, said she had been contacted by a number of elderly constituents with complaints about missed appointments by their carers.

"Twenty-eight people were affected which is a lot for a rural community – but it could have been a lot more," she said.

"First and foremost my concerns are with those people who have been impacted immediately by this announcement. Many elderly people who live on their own are absolutely dependent on the daily home visits for essential personal and home care."

A spokeswoman for the Northern health trust confirmed a private company had withdrawn it services but stressed that alternative support had been set up.

"Approximately two weeks ago the provider gave notice that they were withdrawing services from 16 clients. Since then the Trust has been make every effort to transfer the care to alternative provision. These arrangements have involved service users and families.

“Subsequently notice of withdrawal of service to a further 12 clients was given to the Trust on September 1 and again arrangements have been put in place to provide alternative provision."



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