Proposed health cuts would have a brutal impact on people, says Armstrong

Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong has said proposed cuts across the health Trusts would have a “brutal impact” on people.

Ms Armstrong was speaking after addressing the South-Eastern Health and Social Care Trust meeting at the Ulster Hospital. It was one of a number of meetings held by the Trusts and attended by Alliance representatives across Northern Ireland, to discuss a proposed £70 million in cuts.

“These draft plans from the Trusts would have a brutal impact on people, especially the most vulnerable in our society. They expose the political failure over recent years to implement badly needed reform to make our health and social services sector more effective and financially sustainable,” she said.

“Year after year, the sector has a hand-to-mouth existence, with money being scrambled together and problems, such as scale and length of waiting lists, building up. Furthermore, we have not had a strategic approach to Northern Ireland’s public finances and instead cheap populism. Now we are now running out of road.

“The immediate challenge is to address this current funding crisis, followed by commencing reforms to avoid this in the future. In the absence of a functioning Executive, the normal procedures by which Ministers would address in-year pressures in the budget are not available.

“It is beyond obvious the parties need to urgently conclude talks and to restore functioning devolution. In the meantime, Alliance will be pushing the Secretary of State and the Civil Service to reassess the budget planning exercises they have conducted this year in the absence of a formal budget, and in particular to assess where underspend in other Departments can be identified and resources redirected to health to avoid or mitigate the scale of cuts proposed.

“Alliance will also be meeting and engaging with the different Trusts to challenge the approach adopted to cuts and to explore what other approaches can be taken to keep to budgets.”

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