QUESTION marks hang over the future of Fermanagh’s Meals on Wheels scheme.
It follows concerns raised by Fermanagh over the Western Health Trust’s decision to review the service.
It was revealed at this week’s monthly Fermanagh District Council meeting that the waiting list for free meals is between six to seven months, and that the Trust has pulled the plug on new appointments. It is understood that the service may be outsourced to a Belfast-based company. A number of councillors expressed their concerns over the impact it could have on jobs and elderly people.
It was SDLP councillor Frank Britton, a former senior social services officer, who raised the matter and explained the potential implications if such actions are taken by the Western Trust. He was backed by the UUP’s Basil Johnston.
He told the meeting: “I have been made aware that the meals on wheels to people who are house-bound is under review by the trust.
“It is worrying because there is a long waiting list for up to six or seven months, and the waiting list is now closed and no new appointments are being added.”
He added that consideration was being given to moving its current arrangement to an outside company.
“Local nursing homes, restaurants and cafes would cook these meals and they would be delivered by volunteers,” he explained.
He went on: “The loss of this service to the county would be a loss of business to those who provide the meals and the loss of jobs to some people who deliver these, plus the recipients of this service have a good relationship with these people – they bring more than meals.
“The company outside of here could be from Belfast and it will end up delivering elderly people frozen meals.
He suggested that if the council were to invite the Trust to a meeting, members could address the issue.
Councillors from Sinn Fein, DUP and the UUP backed the motion to meet with the Trust to discuss the meals on wheels issue.
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