Newspaper for Crossmaglen, South Armagh, Newry and Down.

‘Trust need to come clean on real impact of £6.4 million cuts’ – SDLP

Local SDLP representatives have called on the Southern Health and Social Care Trust to come clean on the real impact of the proposed £6.4million in cuts to services locally.  Assembly Members Justin McNulty, Sinead Bradley and Dolores Kelly were joined at Thursday’s spending cuts meeting by local councillors as the Trust set out its plans to save the £6.4million asked of it by the Department of Health.

Newry and Armagh Assembly Member Justin McNulty described the meeting as “frustrating” and added,

“Whilst the Trust have said they will offer up £6.4million in savings, their proposals were scant on detail.  Care for the Elderly is taking the brunt of the cuts with £2.9million coming from that service area with a further £1.6million coming from Acute Care, £400,000 from Mental Health, £400,000 from Learning Disability and £200,000 from Physical Disability whilst health promotion loses £300,000.  These are staggering amounts to loose, but we fear the real impact may not be felt to the next financial year.  Will the Trust get this money back in next year’s budget?’

Mr McNUlty said he was pleased to have been reassured at the meeting that measures are in place to sustain the 24/7 cover by locum consultants at Daisy Hill’s Emergency Department and he said he raised the issue of services for those with disabilities, those needing autism services and the elderly in the community.

“What was apparent today was the real anger in the room at the political failure at Stormont,” said the Newry and Armagh representative.

“We believe today’s exercise by the Department and the Trust is more about pushing the DUP and Sinn Fein into talks at Stormont and the sick general public are just collateral damage in the process. 

“We asked where is the additional £60million James’s Brokenshire announced just five weeks ago or indeed the £250million per year the DUP and Conservative parties announced back in June?  Whilst some are playing politics, our sick and infirm are suffering.”

Justin McNulty MLA (Newry and Armagh), Dolores Kelly MLA (Upper Bann) and Sinead Bradley MLA (South Down) with Bryce McMurray (Acting Director Mental Health and Disabilty Services, SHSCT) following todays meeting in Craigavon

South Down Assembly Member Sinead Bradley MLA added,

“It is clear to everyone that our Health Service has reached crisis point.  Therefore, I and my SDLP colleagues do not accept the starting position in this debate that ‘cuts must happen’ particularly when they are exclusively a cost saving exercise that give no consideration to sustainability.

Ms Bradley said she and her SDLP colleagues intend to gather further clarification on many of the headline figures presented at the Board meeting in order to fully understand the potential impact the latest proposals may have on patients and staff.

“Promises of £1 billion from Teresa May and the Conservative Government, together with individual promises from Sinn Fein and the DUP of £1 billion for the Health Service ran eerily silent today.

“It is deeply frustrating to witness the Health Service, on which we are all dependent, withering further during the latest political vacuum.”