SDLP MLA for Foyle Mark H Durkan welcomed the Health Minister’s intervention on the future of the Cottages Respite Facility. Speaking today after another meeting with the Health Minister, Mr Durkan called on the Western Trust to open up the channels of communication with families.
Mr Durkan said: “This morning my colleague SDLP MLA Pat Ramsey and I met again with the Health Minister and asked him to urgently intervene and scrap the proposed scaling down of the Cottages Respite Facility in Derry. We warned Minister Wells of the public support for this facility and the devastating impact any reduction in service would have on the most disabled children.
“I am pleased the Minister has since reassured us that no decision would be made on the future of the facility until he visited the City.
“While I welcome the Minister’s intervention, I would urge the Western Trust to get in touch with families and staff who have just been left in limbo awaiting the outcome of the consultation. This is particularly important as over the weekend reports came through that the redeployment process is underway for staff at the cottages. I have received assurances today from the Trust that this is just a contingency ahead of any decision but one which is understandably worrying for families hearing such reports and very stressful for staff members.
“This campaign is one that is not going to go away. If the Western Trust fail to listen now they are in great danger of causing circumstances where parents are no longer able to care for these children. Over the past few weeks, we have been engaging with families of the children who use the cottages facility. The parents and carers have successfully stepped the campaign, having launched their own short video and online petition. I would urge people to show their support.”
Pat Ramsey MLA said: “Moves to close the Cottages is disappointing on a number of levels. Not only would closing the Cottages cause undue stress and additional trauma on families who already face significant and real challenges every day, it actually translates to the abandonment of special needs children in order to balance their books for a relatively insignificant sum. This service is a real benefit to those children with special needs and everyone in Derry should do all we can to ensure it stays in the city.”