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Time for fresh commitment to long stay patients

In a ruling on 6 May, the High Court found that the Department of Health, Services and Public Safety was not in breach of its legal obligations to resettle a person from a learning disability hospital.  Acting on behalf of a client who has been waiting for over 10 years to move out of a learning disability hospital into the community, the Law Centre brought this case to establish the duties owed by the Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety to resettle people with a learning disability in the community.

Speaking after judgment Louise Arthurs, Law Centre solicitor who brought the case said, “We are currently studying the judgment. While we are disappointed with the ruling, this case has highlighted the long delays in resettlement from long stay hospitals for people with a learning disability.  Campaigning by hospital residents and this court action has ensured that the voice of people with a learning disability has been heard.  It is important now that the new NI Executive gives a fresh commitment to ensure that adults in Northern Ireland no longer have a hospital as their permanent address.”

Maureen Piggott, Director of Mencap NI said: "Mencap is extremely disappointed in the judgment today and in the lack of any real understanding of the difficulties faced by people with a learning disability in getting the extra support they need to move out of hospital once their treatment has come to an end. We will continue to campaign for the rights of people with a learning disability to get the housing and care they need to move into the community and will study the detail of the judgment to inform our continuing action.”

“This issue is not over as the judgment itself set out that the ruling still leaves open how other cases might be dealt with and resolved, “ said Maura McCallion, Assistant Director of Law Centre NI.

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