CLOSED?

There’s no chance Dromore’s Skeagh House will ever re-open and public consultation on plans for permanent closure will be “meaningless”.

That’s the reluctant verdict of one of the chief architects of the last defence campaign to successfully save the home from proposed closure. Leading campaigner Louis Boyle said that while he accepted there had been no option but to shut down Skeagh House for the past two years, its enforced closure, due to a landslip, had made it “so easy” for the health authorities to aim the axe.

He said people should now demand that savings from closing the home be used to improve home-based care services in the area.

Dromore Ulster Unionist Councillor Carol Black, on the other hand, is squaring up for a fight in defence of the prized residential care home and Lagan Valley MP Jeffrey Donaldson, though downbeat, believes there is some importance in a clear public response to the consultation.

“ . . . I believe it is vital we do respond to the consultation and make clear there is a continuing need for this type of facility in Dromore,” said Mr Donaldson.

Proposals to close Skeagh House and nine other NHS residential care homes will be subject to a 12-week consultation exercise to be undertaken by the health trusts over the summer months.

Final recommendations on the closures will first go back to the Health and Social Care Board for approval.

They will then go on to the Health Minister for final approval.

Trade unions Unison and NIPSA have also spoken out against the plans.