Northern Ireland

'4,000 jobs' could go in health service due to budget

Stormont
Image caption The draft budget was announced on Wednesday

A senior health official has warned that Stormont's draft budget, if approved, would lead to up to 4,000 job losses in the health service and much longer waiting times.

Regional Health and Social Care Board chief executive, John Compton, said significant savings had already been made.

It was announced on Wednesday that the health budget would increase by £326m.

However, Mr Compton said they would be "several million pounds short".

"We are pretty confident in the numbers we are talking about between 3,000 and 4,000 jobs over the period of time," he added.

"The board will be considering in January a detailed response to the budget that will be much more specific, but clearly we will have to examine where we are providing services right across the Province.

"It is clear that will affect all grades of staff - professional staff, administrative staff, management staff.

"We would try to do that in a sensible way by managing normal turnover of workforce and all of those sorts of issues, but undoubtedly there will be significant job reductions if this budget maintains."

Northern Ireland Finance Minister Sammy Wilson said there were no plans for water charges over the next four years in the budget plan.

He also confirmed in the draft budget that the regional rate, the portion of rates collected by Stormont, would increase by inflation in the same period.

There will be a 15p plastic bag levy while 12,000 civil servants face a two-year pay freeze.

If the draft budget is implemented, education would lose £67m, regional development £63m and justice £48m.

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