Department’s latest climb-down was won by a powerful coalition of trade unions and communities standing together
Health Department leadership must now initiate a grown-up dialogue about reshaping services based on genuine partnership not sham consultation
October 11th: Kevin McAdam, Regional Officer for Unite welcomed the announcement by Health & Social Care Northern Ireland that a further £40 million in funding was to be made available leading to proposals that would have seen devastating cuts to frontline health services to meet a £70 million budget reduction being shelved.
“This afternoon’s announcement reflects that the proposed cuts were necessitated by a spurious budget reduction. Their impact and consequences were completely untenable from a medical perspective and would have had a devastating impact on the most vulnerable. This latest u-turn by the Department is a victory won by the trade unionists and communities up and down the country who mobilised in defence of their local Health and Social Care services.
“I commend their efforts and encourage them to stay involved. They have shown that there is a genuine and strong desire to safeguard local NHS services and that moves to further the hold of private medicine and private interests corroding our public services will be resisted at every step.
“The Permanent Secretary Richard Pengelly initiated this process in a completely unaccountable manner. The threat he raised over vital healthcare provision caused widespread, and unnecessary, concern among the most vulnerable in our community. Mr Pengelly must now hold himself responsible for this and the fact that his Department has been forced into yet another climb-down, one entirely of his own making.
“Unite will be reviewing the detail of what the HSC’s announcement, and that by the various Health Trusts, means in specific terms across all five Health Trusts. We reject any cuts to frontline public healthcare services.
“It is now time that the HSC and the Health Trusts initiated a grown-up dialogue with trade unions, communities and service user groups about reshaping our public health system. Progressive reform must be built on genuine partnership and meaningful participation by service users and staff representative bodies. Unite is up for such a process as only such will sustain and safeguard our precious NHS as it enters its seventieth birthday year”, Mr McAdam ended.
This money was not a climb down. Tony Stevens of NHSC told a meeting at Whiteabbey hospital last week that the boards were expecting to receive some dosh soon and hopefully some of the proposed cuts would not be necessary. There will still be some cuts.