Southern Trust launches public consultation on £6m savings plan
The Southern Trust has been asked to make savings of over £6million in its 2017/2018 budget as part of a cost saving plan by the Department of Health to save £70 million across all five Health Trusts in Northern Ireland.
The cost-cutting proposals were outlined during five meetings held across the Trusts on Thursday last and, in an unprecedented move, each Trust has published its own set of proposals which the public will have the opportunity to respond to in the coming weeks.
Trust bosses addressed the meetings, speaking with workers, union members and political representatives, with members of the public also in attendance.
While each trust has made independent spending cuts most agree that the cutting of agency or locum staff is inevitable as well as reductions of non-urgent elective surgery.
The Southern Health and Social Care Trust Board immediately published its draft Savings Plan after Thursday’s meeting.
Launching the consultation, a Department of Health spokesperson said the financial challenge for Health “remains significant” due to inflation, an increasing and ageing population and the cost of new treatments.
The spokesperson added that “the HSCB will work with the Trusts during the consultation period to develop actions to mitigate as far as possible the proposed temporary service changes to maintain quality of provision. Maintaining patient safety remains the prime priority for the HSC.”
“The Southern Trust proposals will contribute £6.4m towards the regional health and social care savings target of £70m,” the statement continued.
“In developing the savings proposals, the Trust’s priority has been to protect direct patient care and to reduce spending in support areas where possible.
“The main points of the plan are: There is no direct impact on current staff, but the Trust will maintain current vacancy management processes; Planned service developments will be progressed as quickly as possible, but are unlikely to be implemented before April 2018; The Trust currently supplies small aids and appliances e.g. items for personal care to clients to support them at home. How these are provided will change to a home delivery service. Any clients affected will be contacted directly to explain how this will work.”
Interim Chief Executive, Mr Francis Rice said:
“We must keep within the funding allocated to the Southern Trust, so our savings plan proposals must show how we will do that. Our savings will be targeted to ensure there is a limited impact on direct patient care, and to protect our core services.
The Southern Trust 2017/2018 Financial Planning Saving Plan is now out for consultation and is available at http://www.southerntrust.hscni.net/about/consultations.htm