Warning local people will die if health cuts plan implemented

Altnagelvin Hospital
Altnagelvin Hospital

Proposals aimed at cutting £12.5m from the health budget will result in patients dying, if implemented, shocked Councillors warned the Western Health Trust’s Board last night.

One Councillor described a presentation delivered by Trust board at the Guildhall yesterday as the “scariest report” she had ever come across.

SDLP Councillor Tina Gardiner, Sinn Fein Councillor Christopher Jackson and DUP Councillor Hilary McClintock have all expressed concerns.

SDLP Councillor Tina Gardiner, Sinn Fein Councillor Christopher Jackson and DUP Councillor Hilary McClintock have all expressed concerns.

Former Mayor, DUP Councillor Hilary McClintock made the comment as she and others on the Health and Community Committee were given a break down of the proposed cuts, which the Trust has been ordered by the Department of Health to implement before March 31, 2018.

Kieran Downey, Trust Director of Women & Children’s Services told the Committee that they had tried to look at making cuts which would have no impact, but that this was impossible given the scale of the cuts and the fact that “we were surviving and living in a financially restrained environment in the first place,” he said.

Mr Downey confirmed a proposal to close either William Street Residential Home in the Bogside or Rectory Field in the Waterside and merge residents was back on the table.

Other measures include reducing domicillary care and nursing home care packages, reducing spending on non-NHS locums, nursing, agency and social work staff, reviewing car parking charges and cutting back on cleaning of offices.

Western Trust staff, meanwhile, will have their annual leave carry over allowance reduced or stopped completely, while planned recruitment in some areas will be delayed.

Routine procedures and surgery would be slashed by 50 per cent for day case patients, with further cuts for routine inpatient procedures in Altnagelvin and South West Hospitals, leading to 40 bed closures.

Speaking after the presentation, Colr. McClintock said: “That is the scariest report I have ever heard in my life.

“You have had an awful situation imposed upon you.

“Even these ‘short-term’ cuts are going to have a long term implication in the future.”

Sinn Fein Councillor Christopher Jackson said Trust staff were already under extreme pressure within the Trust and that this was likely to exacerbate this, adding that the plans for the residential homes was going to frighten residents.

SDLP Councillor Tina Gardiner described the proposed cuts as “horrific”.

“There is no way we can be endorsing or supportive of this,” she said.

“I can’t see how, if the Trust follows through on this, we won’t see people dying as a result.”

*A public consultation meeting on the proposals will take place at the Verbal Arts Centre in Derry on Tuesday, September 26 from 7pm to 9pm.