26 September 2023

NORTHERN IRELAND: Carers ‘begging’ Department for help

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Unpaid carers in Northern Ireland are having to “beg for help” from the Province’s Department of Health, an umbrella group which represents carers’ claims.

The Coalition of Carers Organisations called on the Department, Health Trusts and other Public Service Agencies to deliver a new deal.

The group wants increased support and respite opportunities for carers.

In a statement, the Department of Health said while the current budgetary position remained extremely challenging, it was continuing to find ways to provide support to carers “where we can”.

“We acknowledge the vital role played by carers in our society and are committed to raising awareness of the role and ensuring carers continue to be supported and valued,” the Department said.

“However, due to significant budgetary challenges, we have not yet been able to allocate the necessary resources to review and update our Carers Strategy.”

The Coalition said more than 220,000 people provided unpaid care for a sick or disabled family member or friend across Northern Ireland “that represents one in eight people”.

It said services were either failing or were not meeting the needs of carers.

Chair of the Coalition, Craig Harrison said the all-too-common experience among carers from all backgrounds and ages was of “being badly let down” by public services.

“Carers, who save the public purse billions of pounds a year, are being expected to quietly prop up the health and social care system with little to no support,” Mr Harrison said.

Belfast, 7 June 2023

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