Question Time: Health, Social Services and Public Safety Tuesday 30 June 2015

Health Minister Simon Hamilton acknowledged the growing demands on GPs and their clinics in answer to David McNarry during today’s Question Time. As a result there was a £15m investment in GP services this year, including provisions to recruit more GPs. A significant amount of the investment was also intended for GPs to modernise and expand their practices. Through various organisations and the trade unions, Mr Hamilton is in constant dialogue with GPs in an effort to hear their concerns and assist them in their work.

Alex Easton then expressed his concern about the future of the Northfield House residential care home in Donaghadee and its residents in light of the current consultation of Northern Ireland’s care homes. The Minister assured the Member that no permanent residents will be forced to leave their home against their wishes as long as their needs can be met safely and that no decisions have yet been made on the future of any of the other homes being considered as part of the ongoing regional review of statutory care home provision. While it has been earmarked for closure, the South Eastern Trust's proposals for Northfield House are subject to public consultation, and no decision will be taken pending the outcome of the consultation process - all responses will be taken on board and considered carefully. The Minister also assured that the health trusts have redeployment and workforce planning measures in place to ensure that no staff will lose jobs in the event of any closures.

The Minister also addressed Members queries on the Paediatric Centre of Excellence at Daisy Hill, funding for community and voluntary organisations, the Western Trust’s ‘Meals on Wheels’ service, the potential closure of Bangor Community Hospital and the independent living fund.

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