Consultation meeting protest planned over Trust cuts proposal

People Before Profit representative Shaun Harkin.
People Before Profit representative Shaun Harkin.

People Before Profit in Derry is planning a protest outside a public meeting on proposals for £12.5m of cuts to services in the Western trust area.

The Western Trust is currently consulting on its proposals over which services will be affected by its draft plans, which include the closure of either William Street or Rectory Field residential homes in Derry and reductions to the number of routine procedures carried out locally.

The Department of Health has instructed the Trust to find the savings within the current financial year, as part of a wider £70m programme of cuts across all Trusts in the north.

The Trust has announced a public consultation event at the Verbal Arts Centre on Tuesday, September 26, from 6pm to 8pm.

People Before Profit representative Shaun Harkin said: “We encourage everyone opposed to the cuts to organise for a large protest before the Western Trust meeting on Tuesday, September 26, at 6.00 p.m. outside the Verbal Arts Centre.

“The Western Trust is tasked with making a so-called ‘savings’ of £12.5 million.

“These cuts, if implemented, will mean the loss of beds, fewer surgeries, longer waiting lists, a reduction in domicillary care, the suspension of fertility treatment and the possible closure of residential homes.

“Workers will lose their jobs and those remaining will be asked to take on more responsibilities. This is an unsustainable situation for patients and workers. It will break our health service.”

Mr Harkin said that Trust Board members, Stormont civil servants, Secretary of State James Brokenshire and “the entire political establishment” need to hear these cuts will not be accepted.

“They need to hear loud and clear there is no mandate for anymore cuts,” he said.

“They need to hear loud and clear these cuts will be devastating and must be reversed. They need to know they cannot use our health service as a political football.”

He added that the £1bn gifted to the DUP as part of its pact with the Tories was “clear proof” that funding is available.

“We need all political parties, trade unions, community organisations and everyone who opposes these cuts to stand in solidarity against the destruction of our health service,” Mr Harkin said.

“Resistance - protests, industrial action, civil disobedience - can stop these attacks.

“We need to speak with a united voice against cuts and demand serious investment in all of our public services,” he added.