Outrage as Southern Trust to receive nothing from £40m health bailout

October 16, 2017

The news that the Southern Trust will not receive any of the £40 million monitoring round bailout for health has prompted outrage amongst local political representatives.

The Department of Finance revealed the funding boost on Wednesday last, authorising the Department of Health to plan on the basis of an additional £40 million being available which would “help towards reducing the amount of savings needed.” In a statement announcing the additional money, the Department warned,

“The Health and Social Care system continues to face serious financial pressures and the £40million offers important short-term respite. However, the best long-term way to counter these pressures is transformation.”

An extraordinary meeting of the Southern Trust on Friday afternoon, revealed however that none of the additional cash will be spent in the Southern Trust area   and that the Trust £6.4m savings proposals remain unchanged as they are deemed to be of “low impact.”

SDLP Assembly Member for Newry and Armagh Justin McNulty MLA said he is “appalled” that the Southern Trust will not benefit from the additional allocation. 

Speaking after Friday’s meeting, which he attended along with colleagues Dolores Kelly MLA and Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon, Mr McNulty said,

“Today’s news is appalling.  This week we had a fanfare around an additional £40million being allocated to health care across the north.  The disturbing news is that this area is getting absolutely nothing from that additional money.’

“Additionally the Trust are to press ahead with £6.4million in cuts.  Cuts in older people’s care, acute care and care for those with mental health, learning and physical disabilities.  It’s disgusting.  Care in hospital and in the community will be impacted no matter what officials will say.’

Mr McNulty said the rationale behind the decision to leave the area out of the additional funding “just doesn’t make sense” given the fact that “the Southern Trust area has the fastest growing population; we also have the oldest population.” 

The SDLP Assembly Member said he had also sought answers as to why 60 operations were cancelled in Daisy hill Hospital and in Craigavon Hospital due to bed pressures last week – a question he said the Chairman of the Trust “point blank refused to allow an explanation, despite all the appropriate Directors sitting around the table.”

“This is not acceptable,” he added.

Armagh SDLP Councillor Thomas O’Hanlon said the positive news announced on Wednesday “has proven to be nothing only smoke and mirrors” and he added that the Southern Trust’s willingness to sacrifice £2.6million from the crisis-hit Care in the Community budget was “deeply worrying and frustrating.”

“Ironically, other Trusts have shelved plans to cut care for the elderly, but not the Southern Trust.  Apparently our cuts are low impact – tell that to those waiting on a care package.

“The Southern Trust covers 20% of Northern Ireland and yet get nothing from this recent funding allocation,” continued Mr O’Hanlon.

“Using normal funding formulas applied for the distribution of funds within the Department of Health this area should have been allocated in the region of £8million this week in additional resources.  This could have been invested in a wide range of services locally in real need of finance. 

“I am appalled for those who need health care and for those staff who are working under such pressure. This money could have made a real difference.”