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Frontline Services A ‘Red Line Issue’ - Action Group

Tuesday, 29 August 2017

DAISY Hill Action Group's Jerome Mullen said that front-line services are a "red-line issue" after it was announced that the Southern Trust have to make £6.4million in savings.

After attending Thursday's Southern Health and Social Trust meeting in Craigavon Area Hospital to discuss the savings that have to be made by the Trust, Mr Mullen said that excessive bureaucracy and administrative costs within the health service - as opposed to primary health care - must be the areas targeted.

Mr Mullen said: "The reading is clearly that they have to make £6.4million of savings out of that £70million. If there is any good news it is that it's the smallest amount out of any of the Trusts of the savings that they have to make.

"They seem to be targeting the expensive out-of-hours locums and agency staff that they've been hiring at very, very high prices over the period. We made the point very, very strongly that if they're going to make cuts, then they must not be on the front-line services.

"However, if they do that, and they haven't got permanent staff that is going to replace those staff then we're going to have a problem; we're going to have operations that are going to be postponed and there's going to be series of effects.

"They have to, at all costs, avoid front-line services, that has to be maintained. As far as we're concerned that's a red-line issue," warned Mr Mullen.

Mr Mullen cited the failure to close down the Health Commissioning Board - as instructed by former Health Minister Simon Hamilton in 2015 - as a latent example of profligacy within the Health system.

He said: "They have to find other savings within either administration or capital expenditure and such like. We also talked about the £28million that is being spent on the Quango that is the commissioning body, which Liam Donaldson said should've been scrapped back in 2015 and is not going to disappear until 2019.

"We're always at a disadvantage in that we don't have all the information at our disposal, but the fact is that there is a considerable amount of waste that is going on a continual basis; there is over-administration, there is over-bureaucracy and there's layers of management that need to be cut back on that we don't need." Mr Mullen said that an overhaul of primary care and GP services is necessary and would alleviate the existing strain that's being put on hospitals "The other issue that I also raised was primary care. The Bengoa Report, and the [Health] Minister at the time, which was Michelle O'Neill, made a big play of the fact they were going to put £30million into primary care and GP services, as they are in serious, serious difficulty.

"I totally agree with that particular type of proposal, and it is for this reason, that if we had good primary care and GP services, we would be ultimately saving money because a lot of patients wouldn't be going to the hospital," said Mr Mullen.

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