Trust official says £4.6m cuts will damage care - leaked document

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The Western Trust plans to slash staffing and medical budgets with “significant impact” on patient care, the Journal can reveal.

A leaked internal document details the impact of £4.6m in cost savings being demanded from the Trust by the Health and Social Care Board.

The union NIPSA, which sourced the document, said it paints a picture of a Trust in “financial meltdown”. NIPSA is planning possible strike action.

The document, written by the Trust’s Director of Finance and Contracting, includes proposals to slash cover for medical staff vacancies by a quarter, and to cut 50% of cover for vacancies in Allied Health Professionals, which includes physiotherapists, occupational therapists and podiatrists. There are also moves to axe 100% of all ‘unfunded’ administration staff. The document also mentions plans to cap expenditure on lab chemicals, which it says will result in the “delayed diagnosis” of patients.

The Trust proposals also provide for a reduction by 25% of all ‘unfunded’ staff in wards, slashing £1.1million from the budget and resulting in “quality of care being compromised and the closure of an entire ward”.

The document states that contingency measures to meet budgetary requirements imposed on the trust would have “significant impact on services” and would require commissioner/departmental support before implementation.

NIPSA official Alan Law said the revelation proved that the reality of the ‘Transforming Your Care’ project was that it would condemn the Western Trust to “financial meltdown”. He said there would be a “possibility of strike action” by NIPSA members over the proposals, adding “this is the true face of Transforming Your Care”.

He said: “The letter to the HSC Board Finance Director from Lesley Mitchell, from the Western HSC Trust Director of Finance and Contracting, paints a very dire picture, with the Trust identifying the impact these cuts will have on the services they deliver.

“One area identified for savings includes the capping of expenditure on lab chemicals, and the Trust identifies how this will delay diagnosis and impact on the timely treatment of patients.

“A range of other services across the entire Trust will be crippled if these plans are implemented, including reduction of hospital beds, closure of residential homes and the decimation of domiciliary care.

Mr Law called on Health Minister Edwin Poots to intervene to “ensure patient safety is not compromised”.

He added: “NIPSA calls for the Trust to refuse to implement these savings and demands action from the Assembly Health Committee. NIPSA will commence immediate consultations with our members on the possibility of strike action in order to protect jobs and services.”