Cuts will be catastrophic - Dr Tom Black

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Proposed cuts to health funding will have a “catastrophic” effect on care provided to people across Northern Ireland, Derry GP Dr. Tom Black has said.

Speaking to the ‘Journal’ this morning, the Derry doctor who is chair of the GP committee in the British Medical Association, said he had “never seen a document like it” - referring to a paper outlining just how £140 million of savings could be achieved in the health service.

“To put this is basic terms this will mean longer waiting times at A&E, longer waiting times at the GP Out of Hours Service - some Out of Hours centres may close. It will result in longer waiting times for Outpatient Clinics and surgeries. Some surgeries may be removed from the list of permitted procedures.

“In terms of the PCI Cath Lab procedures - and the implications for the cath lab in Derry - we are talking about saving lives.”

Patients with long term chronic health conditions such as HIV, MS and Rheumatoid Arthritis will also find their access to vital medications limited or not available at all.

“It means as a doctor I will have to have some very difficult conversations with patients who know that there are treatments out there that would improve their quality of life but they will not have access too.”

Dr. Black said cuts in budgets for locum staff and bank nurses will “remove the glue from an already overstretched system”.

“Locums and bank nurses are what hold the system together,” he said, adding that it was already proving problematic to fill key medical posts in the North.

“Many young doctors are moving away - and why wouldn’t they? If they had a choice between work elsewhere and coming to work in a system which is already at breaking point, it is obvious what they are going to choose.”