Plan to axe support service short-sighted, says unionist

Release from hospital
Release from hospital

Axing a support service for people returning from hospital could have dire consequences, it has been claimed.

Eleven jobs have also been put at risk by the decision to cut the Home from Hospital rehabilitation care at the end of this month.

UUP health spokeswoman Jo-Anne Dobson branded the cost-saving measure “short-sighted” and said she would be raising the matter with the Health Minister.

The Upper Bann MLA said: “It is extremely disappointing, not least for the people affected, that this well-respected service is being withdrawn and I have written to the Health Minister to express concern about this decision.

“This is a very short-sighted decision and one which, while the Trust dithers, leaves far too many people with a valuable service withdrawn from them.”

The Home from Hospital service has been run by Bryson Charitable Group on behalf of the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust for around 20 years.

Trained carers provide short-term assistance to people recovering from major surgeries who would otherwise be left at home alone.

They help with daily tasks such as bathing, getting in and out of bed, dressing and shopping as well as providing emotional reassurance to help alleviate feelings of anxiety and loneliness that can arise after a stay in hospital.

But in a letter to Marie Heaney, a senior manager at the Belfast Trust dated December 31, the charity warned that the service was no longer sustainable.

“The loss to Bryson at the 7th month end is in excess of £20k,” a Bryson representative stated.

“Bryson continues to believe there remains a great need for this service as part of a menu of short-term interventions and would be delighted to continue, however we cannot sustain this subsidy.”

The Belfast Trust said it would utilise any savings that were made.

A statement said: “Bryson Charitable Group gave the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust three months’ notice of its intention to cease the Home from Hospital service on December 31, 2014.

“The funding released will be utilised through increasing service capacity in reablement and domiciliary care services.”

Meanwhile, staff from the Home from Hospital unit have been told they will be redeployed.

But some employees fear that could mean a change of working hours and conditions which may force them out of a job.