Alliance to attend health meetings across Northern Ireland

Alliance Party representatives will attend public consultation meetings being held across Northern Ireland tomorrow (Thursday) by the various Health and Social Services Trusts.

The meetings will take place at the Ulster Hospital, Craigavon Hospital, Knockbracken Healthcare Park, Antrim Area Hospital and Altnagelvin Hospital, and will discuss proposed plans to make £70 million of cuts to the health service.

Alliance Deputy Leader Stephen Farry MLA said the potential cuts represented a “real crisis” in public services.

“This should be a priority for all parties, as cuts would have a major impact on the lives of many people. It puts into sharp focus the urgent need for restoration of devolved government.

“Based on its current configuration, the rate of healthcare inflation is over five percent each year. It is a real challenge to even stand still, and in the absence of reform, it is clear the health service will continue to deteriorate in terms of performance.

“The reform programme is currently stalled in the absence of a functioning local Executive, and this year the Budget planning statement made to the UK Parliament by the Secretary of State and the subsequent monitoring round allocations have not been sufficient to fully meet rising pressures. The £70 million shortfall is the consequence.

“Alliance will continue to advocate sensible reform based upon the Bengoa Report and to argue for a more strategic approach to public spending, such as redirecting the costs of managing a segregated society, to our health system.

“In the immediate crisis, we will be arguing the Trusts should avoid impacting on the most vulnerable in society, through for example reductions in funding for domiciliary care and mental health.

“It is vital the Civil Service engage with the Secretary of State to identify if other money can be saved or where underspends are likely to emerge, and to redirect those to health and social services.”

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