Northern Ireland

Reaction to NI health trust savings plans

Northern Ireland's five health trusts have outlined proposals to make £70m worth of savings.

The five trusts have been asked to deliver the savings by the Department of Health.

The proposals have now been unveiled to the public as part of a six-week consultation following meetings across Northern Ireland on Thursday.

Political figures have been having their say in response to the savings plans.

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Edwin Poots, DUP MLA

"Some of the suggestions for savings from the health trusts are alarming, and my colleagues and I will be taking time to study them in detail over the next few days.

"It is clear for all to see that a region can't have an absence of government without there being consequences.

"Sinn Féin failed to bring forward a budget before they collapsed the executive, and desperately needed health reforms have been stymied over the last year.

"The DUP will do all we can to seek to ensure the public and particularly our most vulnerable are protected."

Carál Ní Chuilín, Sinn Féin MLA

"This was a cynical and divisive exercise.

"The pressures on the health budget are the direct result of repeated cuts imposed by the Tory government which have seen more than £1bn slashed from the North's finances,

"Many of the proposals outlined are completely unacceptable and would represent a direct attack on frontline services for some of our most vulnerable citizens, including cuts to hundreds of care packages for 75-year-olds, and will be fiercely opposed by Sinn Féin."

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Colum Eastwood, Social Democratic and Labour Party leader

"SDLP representatives today at each Trust meeting across the North made clear that any plan to make £70m cuts must be resisted.

"There is no way that savings of this magnitude can be achieved without compromising on patient safety and delivery of care.

"All political parties have a responsibility to resolve the political impasse and restore the assembly to work to alleviate these pressures.

"That is why the SDLP has called on parties to come together in the talks to agree an implementation plan for health service transformation."

Roy Beggs, Ulster Unionist Party

"These emergency cuts will mean people waiting longer for treatments and people having to remain in hospitals for longer than they need to and therefore not allowing those beds to become available for other patients.

"Yet it doesn't need to be this way.

"A local health minister could block the worst of the proposals, yet Sinn Féin representatives had the audacity to attend the public meetings and speak out against the cuts, obviously overlooking the fact that Michelle O'Neill abandoned her responsibilities when she walked away from being health minister earlier this year."

Kellie Armstrong, Alliance Party MLA

"These draft plans from the Trusts would have a brutal impact on people, especially the most vulnerable in our society.

"They expose the political failure over recent years to implement badly needed reform to make our health and social services sector more effective and financially sustainable.

"It is beyond obvious the parties need to urgently conclude talks and to restore functioning devolution.

"In the meantime, Alliance will be pushing the secretary of state and the civil service to reassess the budget planning exercises they have conducted this year in the absence of a formal budget."

Steven Agnew, Green Party leader

"Spending decisions should be taken by the department under the leadership and strategic direction of the health minister.

"The continuing inability of the DUP and Sinn Féin to work together means that these decisions are pushed onto the health trusts and the public.

"Health service reform can only be delivered through long-term strategic planning and implementation.

"That's why we need to restore devolution and have a health minister in place. The people on waiting lists and in need of medical support and assistance deserve more from their elected representatives."

Dr John D Woods, chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) Northern Ireland

"We have consistently said the issue of a lack of doctors across all trusts and specialities needs addressed.

"Ongoing use of locums is simply not sustainable financially, nor is it best for patient care.

"We need significant and meaningful service transformation so that we have service and a workforce that is fit for the future."

Kevin McAdam, the Unite union

"Unite will be strongly opposing these cuts that will be so devastating to our older persons and the infirm during the deliberately short (six week) consultation.

"Today's meetings just confirm that the trusts will do the bidding of a permanent secretary who is taking the opportunity to drive through Tory-style cuts in the absence of a locally-elected health minister."

Kevin McCabe, assistant secretary at Northern Ireland Public Service Alliance (Nipsa)

"The timing of these plans was a cynical exercise by HSC management, taking advantage of the political impasse.

"Nipsa will fight with the public and others to resist these proposed cuts over the consultation period."

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