Daisy Hill cuts fear

Tuesday, 2 September 2014

FEARS are mounting for the future of Daisy Hill Hospital following Health Minister Edwin Poots' delivery of a briefing paper to the Stormont Health Committee.
Mr Poots claimed that he will "not be the person" to make drastic cuts required to make a up shortfall of some £140 million in the budget for his department. On Thursday night Mr Poots delivered an alarming briefing paper to the Stormont Health Committee which revealed the scale of cuts to hospital services and community care.
That paper spelled out that if an £80 million injection is not received, then smaller hospitals such as Daisy Hill will suffer from cuts to temporary medical staff. One of the paper's conclusions is that there will be a decimation of the nursing profession, with the removal of 450 agency nurses for six months. This move could see hospital ward closures as permanent staff would have to be redeployed to replace temporary colleagues.
A spokesperson for the Southern Health and Social Care Trust responded to a request for a comment on the matter from the Newry Democrat with the following statement: "All Trusts were asked to prepare contingency plans to address financial pressures.
“Our contingency plans were submitted to the Health and Social Care Board who in turn provided them to the Health Minister.
“All Trusts' plans are currently with Minister for consideration / decision and as such it would be inappropriate for us to comment further at this stage.
“It is our understanding that the Minister will be discussing the matter further at the Health Committee this week."
SDLP MLA for Newry and Armagh, Mr Dominic Bradley is set to meet the Chief Executive of the Southern Health and Social Care Trust to discuss his concerns over the ongoing crisis in funding of the health service.
“There are very real and genuine concerns about the impact any proposed further cuts will have on services across the north and locally," said Mr Bradley.
“I have raised my concerns with the Chief Executive of the Southern Trust and will lead a delegation to meet her. We will stress our strongest opposition to any further cuts locally.
“We are all too aware of the constant changes in Health Service provision and we already see services reduced or even withdrawn.
“We see services centralised in Craigavon and the impact of these changes are already being felt on patients, carers and the staff within the Trust. I believe any further cuts to services will have a devastating impact to health provision in Newry and south Armagh.
“The Southern Trust has historically been underfunded in comparison to other trusts such as Belfast and yet services to the vulnerable are constantly being slashed in this area. Enough is enough," he concluded.
Meanwhile, Sinn Féin MP Conor Murphy has called into question Health Minister Edwin Poots' ability to manage his department's budget.
The Newry and Armagh MP said: "While there are obvious challenges for the health service in an era of Tory cuts to public services, it is becoming increasingly clear that Edwin Poots is incapable of managing his department's budget.
“After years of berating the previous health minister for demanding more money, Edwin Poots has been unable to control his department's finances, despite an increased budget," he said.
“He has been given more than £200 million in additional funding in successive monitoring rounds, on top of an increased budget, but still he is demanding £160 million more.
“His own party colleague, finance minister Simon Hamilton, has publicly criticised Edwin Poots' budget handling after an overspend of £13 million in the last monitoring round. And an underspend of £10 million which he declared too late for it to be reallocated.
“The DUP is obviously divided on their minister's mismanagement of the health service.
“Health is a hugely important issues and must not be hostage to the internal problems of the DUP," he concluded

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