Thursday, 28 September 2017

Protest to be staged at public health service meeting.


A PUBLIC meeting is being held in Strabane this afternoon (Strabane) on 12.5million worth of cuts to the health service within the Western Trust, while a protest is expected to be held outside.

Strabane had initially been omitted from the round of consultation events but following representations from Sinn Fein's Barry McElduff MP., the Trust agreed to host a consultation event locally.

Today's meeting is scheduled to take place in the Fir Trees Hotel between 2pm and 4pm. The 'Say No to Cuts' protest is due to begin at 1.45pm.

Organisers are urging the public to join them at the protest and to boycott the official consultation.

This, they say, will prevent the Trust from fulfilling its legal obligation to consult with the public on the cuts.

They are urging people to "stand shoulder to shoulder and as a united community send a loud and clear message to the government: We are not accepting this."

Union officials are also expected to join the protest. A similar protest was held at the Omagh round of the consultation on Thursday.

The timing of the event has also been criticised with many taking to social media to say they will be unable to attend due to work commitments.

All five Health and Social Care Trusts across Northern Ireland have been tasked to deliver 70 million savings by the Department of Health with the Western Trust expected to make cutbacks in the region of 12.5million.

Under the proposals, there will be cuts in the use of locum doctors, nurses and agency social workers, a reduction in routine elective and daycare surgery, a reduction in domiciliary and nursing home care packages and a rationalisation of existing services, amongst others.

Locally, fears have also been voiced over the future of the GP Out-of-Hours service which relies heavily on locum doctors.

Councillors on Derry City and Strabane District Council were briefed on the cuts when they received a presentation from Trust officials earlier this month.

Local independent councillor, Patsy Kelly, described the plans as "horrendous" and said the most vulnerable in society will be affected.

"The presentation given to councillors was horrendous," he said. "It is the most vulnerable people in our society, those who need protected, who are going to suffer as a consequence of the cuts.

"The list of cuts to services and the impact on users is going to be huge. Waiting lists are going to go up, our GP out of hours service is going to suffer, our elderly will suffer.. it is shameful.

"The health service is being cut to the bone and yet we have no accountable Executive. The DUP and Sinn Fein really do need to get their heads together and get Stormont back again. I would urge the public to make a stand and have their say against these cuts," Cllr Kelly said.

The Western Trust's 'Savings Plan' consultation is available on the Trust s website:

If you are unable to attend today's meeting but would like to comment on the consultation, you can do so before October 5.

Information on how to respond to the consultation can be found in the consultations area on the Trust s website.


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