Health staff face River House move

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NORTHERN Trust staff could be moved from their current base in Coleraine due to a Department of Health costcutting exercise.

More than 30 staff will be affected by the proposed relocation of three key services at River House on Waterside where they have resided for the past five years.

The Department of Health, Social Services and Public Safety has asked Northern Trust to review its leased accommodation and, where possible, use its own premises.

However staff at River House are in the dark about if and when they will be moved - and where exactly they will be going.

There is also concern about the inconvenience to members of the public who depend on the services.

Currently 34 Northern Trust staff work at River House including members of the Early Years, Fostering and Adoption placement teams and the 16+ team. This number also includes administrative support staff and other assistants.

Staff fear that these services could be split up and located in different Northern Trust sites making them less accessible to their clients.

The Times understands that staff could be withdrawn from River House sometime in June but still have not been given final confirmation. Northern Trust has leased the building until October.

Health union Unite claim that it has not been notified of any possible change to services at River House.

Spokesman Kevin McAdam said: “I would fully expect that there should trade union involvement at the earliest of stages if there is to be any relocation.

“We would hope that the Trust would maximise the use of its own premises available to them and not squander money on leased premises.

“However we would be opposed to people being moved for no good reason and would support these essential services remaining locally.”

A spokesperson for the Northern Trust said: “The Department of Health, Social Services and Public safety has asked all Trusts to review their leased accommodation and where possible to use Trust owned premises.

The Trust is currently reviewing all leases which are due for renewal and considering possible options to relocate services not provided on Trust premises to.

“We are keen to support integrated teams working in the area by bringing them together on the one site. In this context we are exploring opportunities for teams to move to Trust owned premises”.

We twice asked Northern Trust to tell us which services resided at River House and how many staff would be affected by the move.

The Trust declined to answer the questions, simply adding: “The Trust is currently reviewing all leases which are due for renewal but no decisions have been made.”