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Southern Trust patients ‘short changed’ as cuts set to continue.

Wednesday, 25 October 2017

Southern Trust patients ‘short changed’ as cuts set to continue. thumbnail

PATIENTS who use the Southern Trust "won't see one copper" of the £40m additional funding recently announced for health.

SDLP political representatives have said a decision to allocate no extra resources to the Southern Trust to mitigate the impact of cuts has left patients feeling short changed.

They said it appears the extra funding is a postcode lottery as some Trusts have received money while the Southern Trust have received nothing.

"It's quite frankly incredible that after the Department of Finance announces £40m to mitigate cuts in the health service that the Southern Trust won't see one cold copper of it," said Upper Bann MLA Dolores Kelly.

"Under a capitation process, the Southern Trust would have been allocated between 14-20 per cent of the extra resource to help ease planned cuts. Instead patients here will have to endure the full brunt of the £6.4m cuts plan.

"When the Southern Trust first suggested that their cuts plan wouldn't impact frontline services, many of us were shocked. It now appears that such a characterisation of the situation has resulted in the allocation of no additional support. That is appalling," said Ms Kelly.

The Southern Trust Board confirmed earlier this month that while they welcomed the announcement of the additional £40m funding and it reduced the need to implement some controversial changes included in other Trusts' savings plans, this allocation "will have no impact on our requirement to deliver on our savings plan during 2017/18".

"The Southern Trust Board has now approved all of the 'low impact' normal in-year financial management proposals, amounting to total savings of £6.4million will proceed as planned.

"I can confirm that the only major proposal which will go forward to the Health and Social Care Board for consideration, is that relating to changing the current system of issuing single use aids and small appliances." Trust Board members approved a change to the current model for procurement of community equipment considering the detailed responses to the public consultation and to consult further in line with the Trust's equality scheme prior to implementation of any change in this service".

Interim chief executive Francis Rice said they would like to thank the many people, groups, staff and interested parties who engaged during the consultation period.

"Clearly we continue to face a very difficult financial environment, but remain fully committed to transforming and modernising our services, while living within the budget available to us." Newry and Armagh MLA Justin McNulty added that patients in "communities in the Southern Trust area are not second class".

"It is absolutely shocking that people here are expected to face the full pain of planned cuts in spite of a £40m easement package from the Department of Finance.

"The cuts across different areas may have reduced but our opposition to the plans has not. The SDLP will continue to resist the worst aspects of these reductions.

"This all once again highlights the urgent need for the restoration of devolution so that a Health Minister can advance the Health Service transformation plan and provide strategic direction," said Mr McNulty.

South Down MLA Colin McGrath said that for the South Eastern Trust, this announcement "will mean that the South Eastern Health and Social Care Trust will be able to remove the threat of cutting locum and agency staff which was expected to have a detrimental impact on the waiting times for operations".

"Many of the services at the Downe Hospital are delivered by locum and agency staff so the removal of this threat will secure these services, at least in the short term and this is to be welcomed.

However, all of these announcements are simply sticking plasters. We still have no Executive to deliver a budget.

Without such, we continue to be in limbo," said Mr McGrath.

 

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