A TRADE union has vowed to challenge any future cuts to residential care - including at Rectory Field and William Street - on equality grounds after a picket in Londonderry on Thursday (September 12).
Unison’s Patricia McKeown called on local health Trusts not to publish any further proposals until March 2014 at least to allow a proper consultation to take place.
In a statement released after Unison picketed a Health Social Care Board (HSCB) meeting on Thursday she said. “We are demanding an explanation as to how core proposals and most particularly extensive cuts, closure and privatisation proposals which will have a detrimental effect on the most vulnerable groups in our society have been excluded from Equality Impact Assessment (EQIA) at all levels of the Health Service.”
She added: “It is a matter of grave concern to us that the plans from each of the Trusts are designed to deliver cuts and privatisation rather than address the devastating facts made public by Government – that the most disadvantaged people in our community have a lower life expectancy, higher rate of premature death than before Devolution.”
She said the union has raised the matter with HSCB and that it will also be raising the matter with the Equality Commission.
“We are formally raising it with the Equality Commission for Northern Ireland and we are pursuing an investigation of the relevant equality laws,” she said.
She mentioned recent Unison events in Londonderry and Belfast celebrating the staff and residents of local care homes.
“Board members should have been there to hear what these articulate residents have to say about how you have treated them, what they want now, and what they want for the future,” she stated.
“You have reduced state provision of residential care to only one quarter of the entire provision.
“Yet you know in particular from the work done in partnership with UNISON that state provision is the highest standard of quality.
“Your first best option is to stop this process now, produce sustainability and development plans for all statutory residential care homes and secure state provision for the future.
“In respect of your recent publication we all need to know if you are publishing draft criteria or leaving it to the rest of us to submit them?”