Health Minister must prove he is in charge

9 11 2014

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SDLP Health Spokesperson Fearghal McKinney MLA is calling on the Health Minister to call a halt to Health Trust cutback decisions to allow for a proper review of the plans.

Some of the Trusts ‘contingency’ plans have been greeted with horror by patients and the public in places like Armagh, Bangor, Downpatrick and Ballycastle and the Health Minister himself has questioned a plan for cutbacks at Dalriada Hospital.

“As well as reflecting concern about Dalriada, the Health Minister has regularly repeated that he is relatively new to his position and it is also clear from evidence to the Health Committee from Departmental officials that Trusts had been working on their plans for some time and certainly before Mr Wells took up his post.

“It is our view that the plans are not about strategic health provision but are about relieving pressure on individual Trusts financial bottom lines.  They are certainly not in the context of the Transforming Your Care strategic plan for moving more of our services into the community. In fact some will have the opposite effect.

“Moves such as cutting back on minor injuries clinics and respite provision are, in the view of the SDLP, certainly not consistent with that plan and may even put further pressure on our hospital and accident and emergency units.

“There is a real need to reassure the public that any cutbacks will have as little impact on patients and the public as possible.  The Minister has an opportunity to do that – prove that it is he who is in charge and not the Trusts – and call a halt to the cuts to allow a strategic review.

“To do nothing and allow the cutbacks to proceed will show it is civil servants who are in charge not the Health Minister.”

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