Health minister must be appointed says Beggs

Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs has called for ministers to be urgently appointed to end the indecision which has now resulted in the NHSCT proposing emergency closure of intermediate care beds and the reduction in planned elected surgery and domiciliary care packages.

Roy Beggs UUP health spokesperson, said: “These emergency in-year cuts are the out-working of the failure of past governments to invest in modernising our health service, the absence of approving an appropriate and timely budget for this year and the continuing absence of a health minister and Executive to take decisions.

“A local health minister must be appointed or there should be an immediate return to direct rule.

“The Northern HSCT and other health trusts have been told they have to find these savings. The slashing of intermediary beds and restricting domiciliary care packages, run completely contrary to what all the evidence suggests we should be doing. Elected operations are to be reduced at Whiteabbey and Mid Ulster adding to our already intolerable waiting lists. More patients will spend longer in expensive acute hospital beds and fewer patients will be able to receive treatment. This continuing drift is not acceptable.

“These proposals are not based on what was best for patients, rather they were decided on which saved the most amount of money in the quickest time. That is no way to run the NHS. This short-termism may well save some money this year but will end up costing us far more in the longer-term. The vision of ‘Transforming Your Care’ appears to be dead.

“These proposed cuts are to be made between November and next March. Yet it doesn’t need to be this way. A local health minister could block the worst of the proposals. However, Sinn Fein representatives who are blocking ministers from being appointed, had the audacity to attend the public meetings and speak out against the cuts. They also brought the Executive down without first putting a budget in place.

“Instead of these last minute cuts to this year’s health budget, we should have a health minister and Executive investing in and implementing the Bengoa proposals to improve health care and planning the 2018/19 budget, so efficient proposals can be implemented. What makes the current impasse even more intolerable is that additional money is available to improve health care in the short term and in the longterm but a minister must be in position.

“A local health minister must be appointed or there should be an immediate return to direct rule.

“Patients need help. They are losing faith that they’ll ever see the additional money promised by both the DUP and Sinn Fein. Never before has our health service faced such a crisis, and yet right now in the absence of a minister, it is totally leaderless”.

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