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'No free personal care for elderly likely without Assembly': Alliance

September 29, 2003 12:00 AM

ALLIANCE Health Spokesperson Kieran McCarthy has said that restoration of the Assembly is the only realistic chance of achieving free personal care for the elderly while Labour remains in charge of the health service in Northern Ireland.

Mr McCarthy was speaking after a report by the Royal Commission said that a lack of free personal care for the elderly - which includes such things as help with dressing, eating or taking medication - is forcing thousands to sell their homes.

Mr McCarthy said: "It is difficult to see free personal care being introduced in Northern Ireland for as long as Direct Rule ministers are in charge of the local health service.

"Restoration of the Assembly appears to be the only way free personal care will ever be introduced in Northern Ireland, given the Government's total lack of action since the Royal Commission's report four years ago.

"Alliance has been at the forefront of the campaign for free personal care here. Even though all the other parties refused to back our move to introduce it before suspension, because they claimed it couldn't be afforded at present, each of them has given a commitment to support new legislation.

"This a major cause of concern to elderly people in Northern Ireland, as currently many have to sell their homes to receive the care they need. The least that older people could expect is that when a local administration is set up again, they would be remembered, be looked after properly and treated as people rather than just another item on the Assembly's 'To do' list."

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