UNISON backs Stormont care homes rally


UNISON supports care home rally at Stormont

UNISON supports care home rally at Stormont

UNISON, the public service union at the heart of the protest campaign to protect NHS care homes across Northern Ireland, is supporting residents and families in the formation of a new campaign group which lobbied Stormont on Monday.

The campaign group – Friends of Care Homes – held a public rally at Stormont to lobby for Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) for their support in opposing Health Minister Edwin Poots’ plans to close all NHS residential care homes.

Around 150 residents, relatives, staff and UNISON supporters assembled at Carson’s statute before a short march to Parliament Buildings.

MLAs met the rally at the doors of Stormont and following a discussion with both protestors and the media, members of the rally were invited into the Assembly’s Senate Chamber to give their views on the proposed home closures.

MLAs heard speeches from care home residents – including Clifford, a long term care home resident in his nineties – and their families; care home staff ; and UNISON Regional Secretary, Patricia McKeown.

UNISON regional organiser, Joe McCusker, said: “The rally is a culmination of work that UNISON undertook with residents and staff of the homes targeted for closure, relatives of residents, and local communities.

“Over the past two months”, Joe added, “a number of public meetings were held across Northern Ireland. UNISON also spoke at various local council meetings. These meetings were well attended by people from local communities and their MLAs, and there was overwhelming support to keep residential care homes within the NHS and stop the health ministers plans for closure.”

MLAs, by signing a UNISON petition, pledged to stand with us in our opposition to NHS residential care home closures and to send a clear message to the health minister that he needs to reverse his policy of closing the homes.