A Belfast Health Trust care home is to close due to a steep decline in resident numbers.
Pine Lodge care home, which provides care for up to 40 residents, will be shut down within weeks, the Belfast Telegraph reports.
Marie Heaney, co-director of older people’s services for Belfast Trust, said: “This is an operational decision we’ve made in the context of the larger decision on Pine Lodge not being made by the minister. We simply can’t keep a facility open with staff 24/7 with nobody there to look after.”
She continued: “This is not a new story. We’re caught in this position where we don’t have any residents, staff are anxious about their futures, and we’re making a temporary redeployment offer to them.”
Ms Heaney said a rise in care at home had contributed to the decline in residents.
Care homes in Northern Ireland have been under a two-year Government review, however, the process was halted last year by the former Minister of Health Simon Hamilton after seven private care homes were closed.
Unison regional organiser Joe McCusker accused Belfast Health Trust of taking the decision to close Pine Lodge without consultation with the new Health Minister Michelle O’Neill.
Mr McCusker said: “Does the Health Minister consider the closure of Pine Lodge as an operational matter for the Belfast Trust alone given the regional review?”
Ms Heaney replied that the minister could take the decision to reopen the home but it would require capital investment and staffing.