A ‘Meals on Wheels’ provider has withdrawn from the Southern Health Trust including the Craigavon area and has blamed funding cutbacks.
The firm Domestic Care claims it has been forced to withdraw the vital service to vulnerable people as cutbacks mean the operation is no longer economically viable.
They plan to stop delivering meals to clients from July 14 and four members of staff are to be made redundant.
The firm claimed the Southern Trust had been systematically cutting back on the numbers of people eligible for the service, with a reduction in service from 4,300 meals per week at its peak to just 600 today.
Chief executive Lesley Megarity said: “Sadly the trust has raised the access criteria for people to qualify for community meals so high that not a single older person has been referred to the service in the past year.
“We are especially shocked that the access criteria has been changed without any public consultation.
“Helping people to live independent lives in their communities is a central plank of government policy – one for which, judging by their actions, the Southern Trust has scant regard.”
She continued: “We are extremely disappointed that all our attempts to keep the service running have been stone walled by the Southern Trust, and so, with the greatest regret we are forced to pull out of the area.
A Southern Health and Social Care Trust spokesperson said the firm had recently approached the trust asking for more money for the cost of meals and the trust was unable to meet the additional costs.
“DCS provided meals to 88 clients in the Armagh, Dungannon, Banbridge and Craigavon areas,” she said, adding all clients receiving meals from DCS are being informed and new arrangements put in place which will begin on July 15.
She said: “The trust is disappointed that DCS has issued this information to the media as they had agreed that they would allow time for trust staff to contact the clients and their family to allay any concerns.