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Govt says Mount Alvernia letters are ‘scoping exercise’, after GSD concerns

Archive image of work on the Rooke elderly residential home. Photo by Johnny Bugeja

The Gibraltar Government last night said that letters received by residents in Mount Alvernia regarding the new Rooke elderly residential home were part of an information-gathering exercise, and not a formal offer to switch sites.

The Government was responding to questions after GSD Leader Keith Azopardi raised concern that Mount Alvernia residents had been asked whether they wanted to transfer to the new Rooke facility, and that they should respond by March 7.

“Very short periods are being given,” Mr Azopardi said during a question and answer session on GBC.

“I'm aware today that letters are being handed out to residents at Mount Alvernia asking them to express a preference as to whether they want to transfer to the Rook site by March 7.”

“That's Tuesday, by the way, without a proper debate on what kind of care they are going to get, who is going to deliver that care, whether it is continuity of care, and whether the jobs of the workers who are providing that care are going to be protected.”

Pressed for clarification, a spokesperson for No.6 Convent Place said the GHA was simply gathering information about future demand.

“The Government of Gibraltar is aware that a scoping exercise regarding potential transfers of Service Users to the new facilities at Rooke site has been undertaken by the Elderly Residential Services at the behest of the Gibraltar Health Authority’s Director General, to understand resourcing implications of said transfers,” the spokesperson said.

“No offers to move have been made to any residents as the Gibraltar Health Authority is simply gathering information at this stage.”

“This is not the formal request that Service Users or their families will be in receipt of once the developers have completed the site and have advised the Government that it may proceed with the next step of the Rooke site project.”

“The Government will make further announcements at that stage.”

The Government said the decision for Service Users to transfer from Mount Alvernia to the Rooke Site “remains with Service Users and their families”, adding it had stated that position publicly before.

“Consequently, service provision will remain to meet the needs of non-transferring Service Users as presently offered,” the spokesperson for No.6 said.

“Further answers are subject to Parliamentary questions and as such will be addressed at the next session of Parliament.”

During the GBC programme, Mr Azopardi accused the Gibraltar Government of privatising elderly care “by stealth”.

“The point that I'd make is that we seem to be drifting towards a privatisation of this important provision by the state of services and elderly care by stealth,” he said.

“Stealth, without a proper debate and without anyone really giving answers on the obvious questions that need to be answered here.”

Mr Azopardi questioned what impact this would have on jobs and what kind of care will be provided for residents at the new facility.

He told GBC that the GSD already has questions tabled in Parliament, but said in the past the Opposition had received “rambling and imprecise answers”.

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