GADS calls on CM to respond to their concerns
GADS membership expressed “disappointment” this week that Chief Minister Fabian Picardo had not responded to its concerns as to why the Dementia Day Care Centre and residential project at the Old Naval Hospital had not yet opened.
At its annual general meeting on Wednesday the Gibraltar Alzheimer’s and Dementia Society informed its membership it had not received a response to its letter which dated back to March of this year. The story of the Society’s concerns – 18 of which had been highlighted in the letter to Mr Picardo – was reported by the Gibraltar Chronicle on Monday.
At the AGM, the membership agreed it was the responsibility of the Chief Minister to publicly explain the reasons why the dementia day centre and residential home had not yet opened.
Chairperson Daphne Alcantara said the membership also wanted to know “why both projects had come to a halt” and called on Mr Picardo to respond to the 18 concerns raised in the letter.
The committee, she added, explained to the membership “they had been advised by Health Minister Cortes that the Chief Minister had given the go ahead to start the recruitment of the specialised staff and the purchase of the equipment but the membership felt apprehensive and concerned that things will be stalled yet again.”
But Mrs Alcantara said it was proving difficult to “continue to take things on trust, promises have been made before.”
The meeting decided that if the Chief Minister did not address GADS concerns and publicly explain the reasons why there continued to be delays they would consider taking action.
“There were comments from the floor at the AGM which expressed that dementia patients, their families and carers had been let down,” she said.
The present committed was re-elected on Wednesday with Daphne Alcantara remaining as its Chairperson, Dick Barton as Treasurer, Lourdes Avellano as Secretary and Ann Barton, Committee Member.
HAS BUDGET SQUEEZE AFFECTED DEMENTIA CARE?
Meanwhile, in a statement yesterday, the GSD noted the increasing concerns expressed by the Gibraltar Alzheimer’s and Dementia Society over the delay in the opening of the Dementia Day Care Centre and Residential Unit.
“Having attended the AGM of GADS Wednesday evening, I was appalled to hear that the only logical reason for the delay in the opening of the Dementia Day Care Centre and Residential Unit seems to be a constraint on Government spending,” said, Roy Clinton who has shadow responsibility for Public Finance.
Mr Clinton questioned how a purpose built dementia care facility could remain empty despite the millions already spent and “apparently fail on the final hurdle due to the cost of implementation to the detriment of sufferers and carers alike”.
If this was not the case Mr Clinton said he would welcome a statement from the Minister for Health Dr Cortes explaining the delay and committing to a firm opening date.
“The Healthcare budget for 2015/16 was £ 97 million representing a fifth of all departmental expenditure and the GHA board has already admitted it is over budget in its 20 April 2016 public meeting. It would appear more attention needs to be focused on targeting spending on patient outcomes rather than escalators. The 2016/17 Healthcare Budget will make for interesting debate,” he added in the statement.
GOVERNMENT HITS BACK
The dementia centres at the former Royal Naval Hospital site have not fallen at any hurdle, and are well on the way to opening, the Gibraltar Government said in a statement.
The statement came late last night in response to the GSD’s statement criticising the delays the project has faced.
“Delays in commissioning such complex buildings are common in the industry, frustrating though they are, but Government Estimates are making provision for these to open within months.”
However, workforces are being prepared and final equipment and furnishings are awaited, the Government said.
“When all comes together it will revolutionise how we look after the elderly and those members of our community with Alzheimer’s and Dementia, as well as make a tremendous difference to their devoted carers.”
The Government also took a swipe at GSD MP Roy Clinton following his comments on the subject.
“Roy’s ridiculous rookie rant reflects his clearly limited knowledge, as the GHA’s expenditure in other areas is not relevant,” the statement read.
His questioning of the placing of escalators at St Bernard’s Hospital entrance shows how out of touch he is, the Government said.
“Not only is it at a very different scale of expenditure, but significantly it is disrespectful to the senior citizens’ and pensioners’ associations who are the ones who requested them and who have welcomed their construction.”
The Government added that Mr Clinton’s indirect criticism of the GHA is an “affront to the hundreds of committed staff” who serve the health of the community day in and day out.
Dr John Cortes, Minister for Health, said: “Roy is using the work and commitment of the hardworking Alzheimer’s and Dementia Society (GADS) for his own political ends.
“The Society clearly wants the centres open soonest, and rightly makes these points to the Government, but it has never taken the matter into the political arena. Both the Dementia Residential and the Day Care Facility will be up and running during the autumn of this year, and I and the rest of the Government look forward to him, or whoever happens to be carrying the relevant portfolio at that particular time, to offer his congratulations.”