Northern Ireland

Home help cuts: Attorney General John Larkin speaks to Belfast trust

Elderly woman's hand
Image caption About 550 elderly people were set to lose out on their home help services

Northern Ireland's attorney general contacted a health trust over its decision to withdraw home care packages from up to 550 people in Belfast.

The Belfast Trust confirmed that the office of Stormont's legal adviser John Larkin had been in touch with them.

The BBC revealed on Monday that elderly people were to temporarily lose laundry, shopping and cleaning help from 5 January.

However, hours later the trust said it was reversing that decision.

Image copyright Pacemaker
Image caption John Larkin has been following the story about the home help cuts

It emerged that letters were sent to carers of people with disabilities as well.

BBC Radio Ulster's Stephen Nolan show revealed details of the cuts.

Stephen Nolan told listeners on Tuesday: "Among the very serious players in Northern Ireland who were listening to the Nolan show yesterday was the attorney general for Northern Ireland, John Larkin.

"John Larkin contacted the Belfast trust yesterday. The Belfast Trust has confirmed that to us this morning."

On Monday evening, the trust said it had taken the decision to cut services "with great reluctance and it was based solely on our need to live within the resources available to us in the current financial year".

Move welcomed

It added: "Since the announcement was made there has been many representations made to Belfast Trust from individuals, families and others, all concerned about our decision.

"As a result, we have decided not to proceed with these changes at this time.

"We regret any distress or anxiety we may have caused."

The decision not to proceed with the cuts has been welcomed by the families of the pensioners involved and a number of political representatives.

One elderly woman who spoke out about the cuts was Adeline Keenan, 89.

She told the Nolan Show: "I get my shopping done on Tuesday and Thursday for half an hour and my laundry on Wednesday for half an hour.

"I will miss the shopping. It is heavy coming up and down the hill and I am 90 on my next birthday."

The commissioner for older people, Claire Keatinge, said the cuts would have had "a devastating impact".

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