Health Minister Michelle O’Neill meets service users and carers

Date published: 10 June 2016

Health Minister, Michelle O’Neill, today met with learning disability and mental health service users, and their families and carers, in Belfast.

The Minister’s first visit was to the offices of the West Belfast Partnership Board, where she met with the families of people with a learning disability who attend the Fallswater Centre, to listen to their concerns about the future of day centres in Belfast. 

The Minister then paid a visit to the Ravenhill Centre, where she discussed the future of mental health day centres with service users, families and carers.

The Minister said: “I greatly appreciate the opportunity to be able to meet with the wonderful people who attend and rely on Belfast’s learning disability and mental health services, to hear about the challenges they face, and to discuss their concerns for the future.

“It is clear that there is considerable worry about the future of Day Centres, and I fully understand these concerns. The Day Centres provide much needed support to service users, their families and carers, and it is only natural for people to be anxious about possible changes to services.”

The Minister’s visits took place following extensive consultations, led by the Belfast Trust in late 2015 and early 2016, on the future of learning disability and mental health day services in the city. The consultations sought the views of the public on proposals to change from a Day Centre model, to a Day Opportunities approach, with a wider range of activities like education, training, volunteering or paid work and support, designed to enhance individual recovery, prevent isolation and support individuals to move to greater independence and active citizenship.

The Minister said: “Following extensive consultations by the Belfast Trust, it is clear there is a lack of public confidence in the original proposals to change the services delivered.  I expect to receive the consultation recommendations by September 2016 and I hope to be in a position to announce my decision as soon as possible thereafter.  The views of the public will be one of the key factors that informs my decision.” 

Notes to editors: 

  1. An analysis of the consultation will be discussed by the Belfast Trust Board, before recommendations are made to the Health and Social Care Board.  Those recommendations will then be sent to the Minister for consideration and decision.
  2. The Belfast Trust learning disability consultation paper made proposals to move from three Day Centres in West Belfast to two with the result that Fallswater Day Centre would merge with the Suffolk and Mica Centres.
  3. The Belfast Trust mental health consultation paper made proposals in respect of changes to services at Ravenhill Adults’ Centre, North Belfast Day Centre at Everton (Crumlin Road) and the Whiterock Centre.
  4. Media enquiries to the Department of Health Press Office on 028 905 20571 or out of office hours contact the Duty Press Officer via pager number 076 9971 5440 and your call will be immediately returned.  Follow us on Twitter @healthdpt

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