Archives For Health

Statement by Jim Allister MLA:

“I am greatly concerned that residential care homes are not being given a fair chance under the Northern Trust’s new consultation and I have written to Dr Stevens, Chief Executive of the Northern Trust, to secure answers on a range of issues.

“Since former health minister Edwin Poots first moved to close residential care homes I have continually sought to expose the slight of hand that is being deployed and to fight for our care homes.

“This slight of hand is continuing, unabated, under the new DUP health minister. This new consultation has emerged – one which the Trust would tell us is open, fair and transparent. I well remember the last farcical consultation exercise which had a pre-determined outcome, with criteria geared towards closures. Fortunately, the public engagement and backlash forced the Minister’s hand in abandoning that.

“The biggest concern was that the Minister did not lift the ban on admissions. This would have allowed each care home under threat the chance to demonstrate that there was a demand for their services. Having kept the ban on admissions, this conceded that the intention was still to close.

“In particular I am greatly concerned by the assurances given that residents will not be moved ‘as long as their needs can be safely met there’ might not be all that it appears– the get out clause for the Trust could well be under the auspices of public safety that these residents must be moved. This, along with other detailed questions, I have now asked the Chief Executive.

“This closure by stealth was not welcome then, and it is not welcome now.”


Note to editor:

Jim Allister MLA’s letter to Dr StevensCEO Northern Trust
Dear Dr Stevens,

re: Consultation Document on Statutory Residential Care – Making Choices

I have a number of queries arising in connection with the above document which I would like you to address.

1. Whereas the maximum potential  weighted score across the criteria measured was 2250, what was the maximum in respect of each measured criteria?
2. In regard to the criterion ‘Care Trends’, how was such measured in respect of statutory care homes given the moratorium on new admissions? In consequence, was the real informative here the number of admissions within the independent sector?
3. Can you provide me with the admissions figures taken into account in respect of each assessed statutory home, under the criterion ‘Care Trends’, and the admission figures taken into account in respect of each independent home in the vicinity of each statutory home, which was considered in determining the relevant ‘Care Trends’.
4. Please provide the data and information deployed to marry the information on admissions to statutory and independent homes which was deployed to produce each ‘Care Trends’ score, and explain the methodology used.
5. Clearly, the availability of alternative services (namely in the private sector) trumped the scoring obtained from applying the criteria. So, please explain how the availability of such alternatives was measured, weighted and applied in the formula which resulted, for example, in the top scoring home, Pinewood, nonetheless being targeted for closure, while the lowest scoring home is to be retained?
6. Surely, the methodology deployed is farcical when it upturns the application of objective criteria, such as commented upon in point 5 above. Isn’t the truth that prioritising private care is the Trust’s overriding concern when evaluating the future of statutory homes?

  1. In regard to the suggestion that Pinewood could be a rehabilitation centre. Is there a plan for such, or, is this merely a conceptual idea? Is there a budget for its delivery?
  2. What worth can be attached to the assurance that no existing resident will be moved when the caveat of ‘as long as their needs can be safely met there’ is attached? Isn’t that a get out clause which will be conveniently deployed to hasten closures under the guise of public safety? That is certainly what it seems to me.

I am saddened that transparently this consultation appears to be part of the same old anti-statutory home agenda and that contrary to public posturing the Trust and the department are working towards closure by stealth, as most evidently demonstrated by the crippling moratorium on new admissions.

For what it is worth, please treat this correspondence as a response to your consultation, though, I still expect a detailed response to the questions raised.

Yours sincerely,

Jim Allister MLA

TUV leader Jim Allister has established through an Assembly Question that £8000 every day of health service funds is going on paying interpreters, giving an annual cost of almost £3 million.

The TUV leader has also established that 5% of pupils in Northern Ireland schools do not have English as their first language, with the percentage topping 10% in South Belfast and 9.5% in Fermanagh & South Tyrone.

Commenting Jim Allister said:-

“In a climate of spates of racist criminal attacks – which must be met with the full rigour of the law – it is difficult sometimes to draw attention to issues of which the public need to be aware. These figures graphically illustrate the impact of the EU’s open door immigration policy within this part of the UK. In the debate about immigration we seldom hear of the ancillary costs in education and health, but, plainly, they are huge, even in the incidentals of providing interpreters in our hospitals.

“The face of several constituencies is changing dramatically, with South Belfast, Fermanagh & South Tyrone and Upper Bann having in or about 10% of schoolchildren not having English as their first language.

“The geographical correlation between health spend on interpreters and high levels of immigrant children in our schools is obvious with the Southern Health Trust spending £1.3m per annum on interpreters.

“Migration has been a feature of life for centuries, but hitherto nation states have exercised control through operating the immigration policy suited to their needs. But not anymore, because now the EU controls our immigration policy and operates a completely open door policy across Europe. Hence, the disproportionate  upsurge in westward migration and the resulting pressures on our health, welfare and education budgets. It is only outside the EU that the UK can reassert control over its immigration policy.”

Note to Editors – Links to Qs in official record:

New chapter in Stormont Shambles

Admin —  August 21, 2014

Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:-

“Last month Edwin Poots voted in the executive to accept only £20m for health in the monitoring round. Today, he declares he won’t live within this constraint and that he desperately needs another £60m, at least! Is this the same Edwin Poots who, along with his party, mockingly berated his Ulster Unionist predecessor every time he dared to say more money was needed?

“The dysfunctionalism of the Executive has clearly spread now even to within the DUP, with Edwin Poots planning to bust Simon Hamilton’s budget and constraints. Collective responsibility doesn’t now even operate at party level, never mind cabinet level.

“Of course, Sinn Fein are playing malevolent games with our public finances, but who brought them into government and sustain them there? Now, we all, but particularly the sick, according to the Health minister, are to pay the price of this unworkable system of mis-government. Another fine mess, made in Stormont!”

Statement by TUV North Antrim MLA Jim Allister:-

“Edwin Poots’ electioneering announcement of ‘reprieve’ for four statutory care homes needs close examination. If he does not reverse his policy of blocking new admissions to all these homes, and others, then the announcement does not provide an assured long term future for the homes. Finding a new use for them is not the same as permitting them to flourish as statutory residential homes within the NHS.

“In the Northern Trust area Mr Poots had advance knowledge of the intended 100% closure, and did not intervene till forced by the public outcry. To now say that he wishes all current residents to be able to stay, while welcome and a relief for those families, does not guarantee the future of these homes unless he allows new admissions.

“I congratulate the Pinewood and other campaigners who have pushed the minister this far, but the campaign must go on till the long term future of the homes is assured as residential homes.

“So while this latest DUP u-turn is welcome, as far as it goes, only lifting the moratorium on new admissions will bring long term security to these homes.”

Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:-“Following today’s revelation of 20 serious incidents now being reported by the Northern Health Trust, including 11 deaths, I attended a briefing this afternoon with the leadership of the Trust.

“While I appreciate the detail provided, I was disappointed that the Trust was not prepared to reveal in how many of the cases there had been late reporting to the coroner and to the affected families. Such an approach does not help build confidence and aid the culture of transparency which the Trust claims it is seeking to build. Nor was the Trust willing to reveal how many incidents of discipline had resulted from these incidents, or their late reporting. I’m not looking for a witch hunt of staff, but I do feel the public are entitled to basic information. Continue Reading…

Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:

As several A & E departments struggle with overload, a key component of the problem is that the absence of admission beds is causing logjam in A & Es. This is something which the Minister seeks to dodge, but it is a policy which he has carried on and continues to implement. You can’t cull hundreds of hospital beds and then be surprised when A & Es are choked with trolley waits. Take Belfast Trust: in just 5 years the number of available beds have been slashed by nearly 20% from 2700 to 2200. Continue Reading…

Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:

“The revelations in recent days about what has being going on within the Health Service in Northern Ireland have shocked us all.

“Let no one be in any doubt about it – were it not for the fact that BBC Spotlight screened a documentary there would have been no statement to the Assembly or appearance by the Heath Minister before his committee. Continue Reading…

Statement by Jim Allister MLA:

“On Tuesday evening I attended one of the Health and Social Care Board’s consultation sessions along with my TUV colleagues and representatives from Unions, care home staff and relatives of residents.

“The proposed criteria put forward by the HSC Board was quite simply a farce – it was entirely contrived to give only one sadly predictable outcome, that residential care homes would have to be closed.

“The criteria are predicated on the assumption that private facilities are better, and we all know that statutory residential homes such as Pinewood, The Roddens and Rosedale, to name but a few, are superb facilities.

“The criteria also set out that residential care homes will be judged on their admissions, but there has and continues to be a ban on new admissions! How absurd and insulting is it that this can be given any weight in the criteria. Of course there will be a trend for private care homes if no new admissions are granted to statutory homes.

“Ever since this process became public last April TUV have set out a fair way to move forward: end the ban on permanent admissions and give the residential care homes a level playing field to compete with the private sector. Only then will a comparison of services, cost, admissions etc be valuable.

“Those present also heard the ‘bombshell’ from an HSC Board representative who expressly said that it was the Minister who directed that the ban on admissions continue during the consultation period. I have written to John Compton, Chief Executive of the Health and Social Care Board, to ascertain the accuracy of this disclosure.

“Minister Poots can blame the Trusts all he wants, but the buck stops with him.”

Statement by Jim Allister MLA

“It is disappointing to learn that £5.7m of public money was not subject to proper procurement control and has been labelled as ‘potential malpractice’.

“It is indicative of the general disregard towards public money that this was not identified through internal checks and balances, but it took a whistleblower to expose the extent of the problem. Health Service Management have a lot to answer for, and lot to do before public confidence can be gained.

“It is simply unacceptable and lessons need to be learned.

“While it is a sad state of affairs it does highlight how vital whistleblowers can be in exposing malpractice and why everything should be done in order to protect those coming forward with such information and to encourage others to do likewise.”

Statement by TUV leader Jim Allister:-

“I am astounded to discover through probing by an Assembly Question that last year our local health service spent almost £40m on litigation – £17.5m on legal costs and £21.5m on paying out compensation!  This £40m spend is a dramatic increase of 60% from just three years ago when the spend was £25m. Continue Reading…