The Western Trust Board was urged to “stand with the people you chose to consult” and refuse to implement any cuts at its meeting on Friday.
Nuala Crilly from the Stop the Cuts campaign was among several speakers who warned that there was an onus on the Trust to take back the message it had received from the public during the consultation.
Addressing the board, she said: “There was an overwhelming response to the consultation that conveyed the depth of feeling the public had towards the proposed cuts.
“Here today you are still prepared to ignore the voices of the members of the public and implement further cuts which we the pubic have asked you not to do. This brings the whole consultation process into question as a sham and a waste of time. I would challenge your assertion that your paramount consideration is your legal obligation to break even.
“What does that actually mean? You have been instructed by an unelected civil servant to make cuts to an already over burdened health system before the end of March. Or else, what is going to happen? What exactly is Richard Pengelly going to do if the Western Trust does not return the Savings Plan? Is he going to send in the police and have you all arrested for failing to meet your legal requirement to balance the books? The Department of Health says you must break even but you cannot cut back existing services already decimated any further to accommodate this unreasonable and unrealistic request,” Ms. Crilly warned.
“The money is there. They money can be found if needed. £40m was found and the rest can be found too. You as the board of directors are looking at this issue from one focus, that of finance and you now need to change the focus. You need to look at the people sitting in this room. You need to look at the responses to the consultation process. Look at the anger, the frustration, the upset, the worry, the distress people have expressed on the streets, outside meetings, in public rallies, inside the public meetings.
“If you put considerations of integrity and what is morally correct ahead of financial considerations, you still have a choice you can make here today that send a clear message back to the Department of Health. You can take a stand.
“You can choose to resign en mass as a board of directors. And in doing that you can say, in good conscience and with moral considerations over-riding financial considerations, and bearing in mind the response to the consultation, you can say you cannot send back a revised Savings Plan. You can choose to stand up. You can stand up in partnership with us, the public, the patients, the staff, our elderly people. You can stand up and say ‘No’, with the public you chose to consult.
“Stand strong with us and we will stand strong with you and together we can send a united message back to the Department of Health- there will be no more cuts to our Health Service. “
Speaking about the savings which the Trust later voted through, Nuala Crilly said the changes to car parking charges “will impact more on low income families”.
She added that while the proposals to go ahead were deemed by the board to of low impact, “you don’t know what impact your proposals are going to have on staff in the Trust but you are still prepared to implement these cuts against our wishes and that is wrong”.