Serious Concerns Raised Over Health Cuts

Serious concerns have been raised after five health trusts in Northern Ireland unveiled plans to make £70 million of cuts.

SDLP leader Colum Eastwood has called on all political parties to come together in the talks to "agree an implementation for health service transformation".

The trusts that have been asked to make cuts are:

• £26.3m - Belfast Health Trust

• £13m - Northern Health Trust

• £12.5m - Western Health Trust

• £10.85m - South Eastern Health Trust

• £6.4m - Southern Health Trust

Mr Eastwood said: "Health must not be a political football but health is suffering as a result of political failure. 

"At the meetings across the North, we heard other political parties duck and dive their responsibilities. But let's be clear, Health is a devolved matter and if those who have already abdicated responsibility to take on the British Government in Westminster, really want to fight against austerity, they cannot abdicate responsibility here too. Devolution can work, but those with the big mandates to govern need to decide if they are up for the challenge of government. 

"There is no more critical issue than the health of the people we represent. In the coming days, all political parties must turn their minds to that."

Sinn Féin, North Belfast MLA Carál Ní Chuilín opposed the planned cuts.

She said: "Many of the proposals outlined are completely unacceptable and would represent a direct attack on frontline services for some of our most vulnerable citizens, including cuts to hundreds of care packages for 75 year-olds, and will be fiercely opposed by Sinn Féin.

"These cuts are not the result of the crisis at Stormont – they are the result of austerity policies conceived and implemented by a Tory cabinet in London. So it's not weasel words from James Brokenshire we need, it's our money back.

"Of course a sustainable and properly resourced local Executive would help mitigate against the worst impact of austerity but the DUP continue to block its restoration through their insistence on discrimination against many sections of our society."

Former Health Minister Edwin Poots has called on parties to work together to take a proactive approach to helping our health system.
News Image
He said: "Some of the suggestions for savings from health trusts are alarming, and my colleagues and I will be taking time to study them in detail over the next few days.
The DUP is willing to be around the Executive table tomorrow, taking much-needed decisions and trying a chart a way through the challenges.

"It is clear for all to see that a region can't have an absence of Government without there being consequences. Jumping up and down at meetings and trying to play to the gallery isn't going to have the necessary effect, and the public see through it. What is required is a Government, and firm action by Government Ministers.

"Sinn Fein failed to bring forward a budget before they collapsed the Executive, and desperately needed health reforms have been stymied over the last year."

Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson, Roy Beggs MLA, said: "These emergency cuts will mean people waiting longer for treatments and people having to remain in hospitals for longer than they need to and therefore not allowing those beds to become available for other patients.

"Northern Ireland already has by far the worst waiting times anywhere in the United Kingdom, so these additional cuts will have a direct impact on the quality and safety of patient care. More lives will be lost, as local health officials themselves warn - spiralling waiting times can lead to severely delayed diagnoses of life threatening illnesses. The shocking reality of where we are in 2017 is that for some of those people waiting, such as the 64,000 local outpatients waiting longer than a year for their first appointment with a consultant, some now have a reduced likelihood of a successful outcome as a result of the delays.

"The Health Trusts have been told they have to find these savings. Whilst some decisions such as using other cheaper medications are welcome, others such as slashing intermediary beds and restricting domiciliary care packages run completely contrary to what all the evidence suggests we should be doing. This short-termism may well save some money this year but will end up costing us far more in the longer-term. The vision of Transforming Your Care appears to be dead. 

"These proposals are not based on what was best for patients, rather they were decided on which saved the most amount of money in the quickest time. That is no way to run the NHS."


Related Northern Ireland News Stories
Click here for the latest headlines.

22 May 2018
Karen Bradley Urged To Restart Political Talks
Northern Ireland's Secretary of State Karen Bradley has been urged to restart political talks to restore devolution. MPs from the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee made the call after parties failed to make an agreement earlier this year.
24 May 2018
DUP Dismiss Calls For Intergovernmental Conference
The DUP have dismissed Sinn Féin calls for a British-Irish Intergovernmental Conference, describing it has a "smokescreen to distract from the fact that Sinn Fein stands isolated in blocking a devolved government". DUP East Antrim MLA, Gordon Lyons, said: "Northern Ireland has been without Executive Ministers for 17 months.
03 September 2008
Changes Loom On Health Care
News of a radical shake-up proposed for health and social care in Belfast is not the only changes afoot as the way that health promotion is delivered across Northern Ireland is also being changed.
14 September 2012
Cancer Patients Missing Out On NI Treatment Targets
Cancer patients across Northern Ireland are starting treatment late as health trusts fail on basic performance standards, it has emerged. Last April, the health minister said 95% of people who were urgently referred with suspected cancer should begin treatment within 62 days.
02 April 2007
Northern Ireland health trusts merge
The number of Northern Ireland health trusts has been reduced from 18 to five in a massive shake up. The new bodies will now be known as the Northern, Southern, Western, South Eastern and Belfast trusts under changes brought in as part of the Review of Public Administration (RPA).
01 February 2018
PHA Launches Breastfeeding Campaign
The Public Health Agency (PHA) has launched a new breastfeeding campaign. The campaign highlights the health benefits of breastfeeding and supporting mums to feel more comfortable breastfeeding in public. The SDLP has welcomed the launch of the Public Health Agency’s breastfeeding campaign.
08 October 2009
Health Crisis Hits Private Sector
The economic downturn continues to hit the health sector in Northern Ireland, writes Carla Liébana. Fifty jobs are under threat at a private hospital in Ballykelly, Co Londonderry.
17 June 2015
Number Of People With HIV Almost Doubles In Ten Years – PHA
Northern Ireland had the biggest rise in new HIV diagnoses compared to the rest of the UK between 2000-2013, according to new figures. The number of people living with HIV has almost doubled over the last two years, the Public Health Agency (PHA) has announced.
03 September 2013
£7m Health Facility Launches At Jordanstown
A new £7m health research facility has been launched at the University of Ulster, Jordanstown. The Connected Health Innovation Centre (CHIC) follows a £6.8m investment by a consortium of technology companies. It is being supported by a £5m research and development (R&D) offer from Invest Northern Ireland.
26 April 2012
Suicide Awareness Training To Be Introduced To Council Staff
Suicide awareness training is to be introduced for all staff and politicians at Belfast City Council, the Lord Mayor has announced. The new initiative is just one outcome of a community conference hosted at City Hall by Councillor Niall Ó Donnghaile.
29 March 2012
Progress Slow In Treatment Of Prisoners Mental Health
Progress in the treatment of prisoners with mental health problems has been slow. While some improvements have been made a report published today by Criminal Justice Inspection Northern Ireland shows that many challenges remain.
10 November 2011
Mental Health Issues No Workforce Barrier
People with mental health issues are making a significant contribution to the workforce. Far from being any burden, the Employment and Learning Minister, Dr Stephen Farry, has highlighted the significant contribution that those with mental health issues make to Northern Ireland's workforce.
27 January 2011
Swine Flu Claims Three More Irish Lives
While the health protection authorities have said the swine flu virus "has peaked" there were still two more deaths in Northern Ireland from swine flu last week and a further fatality across the Irish border.
10 January 2011
Fresh Tragedy As NI's Swine Flu Level Rises
Northern Ireland's Public Health Agency (PHA) has made a new pledge to update the public on the number of people to have died from the swine flu virus - with the first news being that another person in NI has died from the infection.
21 September 2004
Minister drills home tooth decay problem
Health Minister Angela Smith has launched a consultation document aimed at improving the state of people's teeth in Northern Ireland. The Oral Health Strategy is a 10-year plan which aims to improve the oral health of the entire population and reduce inequalities.