Western Trust board to meet to discuss cuts

Protesters gathered outside Trust headquarters at the MDEC building Altnagelvin prior to a meeting to discuss the Trust's Savings Plan.
Protesters gathered outside Trust headquarters at the MDEC building Altnagelvin prior to a meeting to discuss the Trust's Savings Plan.

The Western Trust Board will meet today to discuss a series of cost-cutting measures despite confirmation that a more severe programme of cuts has been averted.

A planned protest will go ahead before the extraordinary meeting, which is open to the public, gets under way at Foyle Arena at 12 noon.

The Western Trust confirmed on Wednesday that the threat hanging over a Derry residential home has now been lifted after the Department of Finance announced that new funding has been identified.

The Western Trust had been planning for a series of major cuts after being ordered by the Department of Health to save £12.5m within its current annual budget. Overall, the Department of Health ordered £70m cuts across Northern Ireland, but the Department of Finance has now identified £40m to offset some of these.

A spokesperson for the Western Trust said: “This means we will be able to remove the high impact savings proposals in our savings plan. The proposals that will no longer be considered include: the temporary reduction in routine elective care, reduction in provision of domiciliary care packages, consolidation of residential and daycare services for older people.”

A spokesperson for the Department of Health said that while this was “hugely welcome,” financial issues faced this year “will only grow in intensity as we move forward” and said it was vital the health service is transformed.

Foyle Sinn Féin MLA Karen Mullan has welcomed the cash injection. She said: “We welcome the fact that this has now happened but it also again opens up the question as to why the consultation on proposed cuts of £70 million was carried out in the way that it was.

“It has always been our view that these cuts were unnecessary and the consultation was a cynical exercise which only succeeded in creating division and concern within the wider community.

“Locally the news that William Street and Rectory Field residential homes will not have to merge will be welcomed by the residents, staff and relatives of those who live at the two homes. There was great concern in the city that these homes would have been forced to merge.”

Foyle SDLP MLA Mark H Durkan, meanwhile, said: “While this cash injection should allay the need for Trusts to make what they deemed ‘Major or Controversial’ cuts, there are still going to be significant cuts to much needed services that will inevitably impact on other areas of care provision.

“There are too many permeable membranes within our hospitals and throughout our Health Service to make cuts in one area without the effects of that having repercussions elsewhere.”

(See more on Page 21)