Health Minister Michelle O’Neill has visited a number of organisations in Derry to discuss a range of issues including learning disability and addiction services.
The Minister first met with the North West Addiction Taskforce where she discussed its work and potential future developments of the service. Speaking after the meeting, the Minister said: “I very much welcome the work that has been undertaken by the North West Addiction Taskforce in looking at all the services available in the area and seeking to identify and address any gaps. Prevention must always be our first objective and we must continue to find ways to prevent people coming to harm in the first place.”
The Minister went on to meet with representatives from the disability sector and a number of issues were raised, including the funding of adult disability services in the area. The Minister commented: “Understandably, this issue has caused a great deal of concern over recent weeks and months. This is why the priority must now be to robustly and accurately quantify any gap and, crucially, come up with a plan to rectify it. The Western Trust has agreed to develop such a plan, with the support of the HSC Board, as a matter of urgency. I will closely monitor progress on this issue in the coming weeks.”
The Minister’s final visit was to Northlands, which provides services in the area of alcohol and drug misuse. The Minister discussed funding issued raised by Northlands and the options for the future provision of the service. The Minister said: “Firstly, I would like to acknowledge the good work Northlands, and other community and voluntary sector organisations, have undertaken over many years in the field of alcohol and drug misuse.
“I am aware of the concerns raised today by Northlands and I am here to listen carefully to those concerns. In the 2015/16 financial year, the HSCB invested £368,000, on behalf of the Western and Northern Trusts, for the provision of Alcohol and Drug Addiction Treatment Services. I can assure everyone that there is no plan to reduce this funding from the Commissioner.
“My Department is currently in the process of developing a new Health and Social Care Innovation Scheme, the aim of which is to promote innovation in the delivery of health and social care services by voluntary, community and social enterprise organisations. It is intended to bring the new Scheme into operation this year and it will be open to any appropriate organisation, including Northlands. I would encourage Northlands to apply for this scheme, which will be open for applications during the 2016/17 financial year."
While in Derry, the Minister also met with the Healthy Living Centre Alliance to see their work first hand. The Alliance provides a valuable service to substantial numbers of people living in disadvantaged communities, many of whom would be considered hard to reach.
Notes to editors:
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