North Antrim MLA and TUV Leader Jim Allister again this week in the Stormont Assembly pursued the Health Minister on the future of the NHS care homes.
Using the new arrangement for Topical Questions he asked Mr Poots “whether he will give statutory residential care homes for the elderly a chance and an opportunity to prove their viability by doing a U-turn on his policy of restricting new admissions.”
When the minister replied by switching the focus to the role of the Trusts, Mr Allister responded, “The Minister likes to hide behind the trusts on the issue. However, his policy is to restrict admissions. On 9 October 2012, when he introduced Transforming Your Care, he told the House that there would, therefore, be a restriction on new admissions to statutory care homes. That is starving homes of the oxygen of occupancy that makes them capable of working. Take, for example, Pinewood Residential Care Home in my constituency. It is a 36-bed unit that has been starved of admissions to the point that it now has nine residents. Is the Minister not, quite clearly, clinging to a policy that is designed to close those homes? Why does he fear lifting that ban to let those homes prove themselves?”
Commenting Mr Allister said “the Minister’s favourite tactic is to blame the trusts, but he sets the policy and his policy is to restrict admissions. Unless and until that is reversed these homes are not being treated fairly or allowed to prove themselves. Clearly the minister and the trusts fear a level playing field for NHS homes because then the homes might flourish and their policy of closure would be thwarted.”