The Southern Health Trust has revealed that 700 domiciliary care packages are currently outstanding.
The issue was raised at a recent Mid Ulster District Council meeting whereby DUP Councillor Clement Cuthbertson expressed alarm at the figure, revealed by senior Southern HSC Trust representative Brian Beattie – the Trust’s director of Adult Community Services – as part of a wider presentation.
The Dungannon councillor asked him: “Just in the relation to the Southern Trust domiciliary care, am I right in saying that there were 700 outstanding people waiting on packages?
“If that’s correct, it’s very alarming. We are all getting calls from families and people that are in need of these packages, and I suppose there’s a knock-on effect – they can’t be discharged from hospital.
“We know that there’s pressure there on getting contractors and staff, but 700 is a very alarming figure.”
Mr Beattie confirmed that this was indeed the case, although the precise figure tends to fluctuate: “At the end of December it was 800, so there’s been some improvement.
“If you’re that one person and you’re waiting for a domiciliary care package, or you’re trying to take care of a loved one, we completely get it.
“We are of the population, we live in the Southern Trust, so we know what this is about.
“We’re doing our best but that work is not commissioned, we do not have money to provide it.
“We are still trying to recruit even though we don’t have the money, and to an extent we have already over-provided domiciliary care compared to the level that we’ve been funded to do.
“That is a major concern for all Trusts. This is a UK problem.”