Union claims cuts will threaten patient safety

The local community is being urged to make its voice heard at a meeting of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust on Tuesday.

The call comes from trade union Unison which claims that proposed £6.4 million cuts will “compromise patient safety and cost lives”.

A spokesperson said, “Waiting times for elective treatment in our hospitals have already been described by the former Health Minister as totally unacceptable.

“Each Trust already has clear evidence that people who can ill-afford it are taking out loans to pay for life-saving treatment in the private sector here, or being forced to go abroad for treatment. Those who cannot afford it are doing without.”

John Creaney from the union’s Craigavon Hospital branch said he believes the time has come for the Health and Social Care Trusts to stand together and say “enough is enough”.

He claims the cuts will mean already waiting lists getting longer; hospital beds and even entire wards closing; older people and the most vulnerable waiting longer in hospital to be sent home and receiving less care in the community; and more pressure on hospitals in the winter.

However, MLA Doug Beattie who met the trust as part of a UUP delegation, said they had been assured there will be no reduction in health services, hospital beds or staff.

He said, “This Southern Health Trust savings plan, which will now go out for public consultation, has been well thought out and ensures that the delivery of services, hospital beds and staffing will not be adversely affected.”

However, he did say it was clear that the NHS throughout the UK was in crisis and this was “doubly so” in Northern Ireland due to a failure to re-establish the Executive.

The meeting will be held on Thursday, September 28 in the Council Chamber, Newry, Mourne and Down District Council, Monaghan Row, Newry.

The open section will begin at 11.30am.