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Trust escapes major health service cuts.

Thursday, 19 October 2017

THE Western Trust has escaped high impact proposals for cuts to its services but it has approved four other proposals to help it save money.

This follows weeks of protests and meetings on how best it could shave some 12.5 million off its budget in order to contribute to overall savings of some 70 million that needed to be found for the service throughout Northern Ireland as a whole.

There was shock but welcome for the news that an additional 40 million was made available to the Department of Health last Wednesday in a bid to help towards reducing the amount of savings needed.

The money will help towards reducing the amount of savings the sector needs to make, said a department spokesman. It has also been described as a "short-term respite" to the overall pressures pushing down on the health service.

At Friday's meeting of the Trust Board, protests continued outside. Inside the mooted cuts and consultation process were also condemned. Chief executive, Dr Anne Kilgallen, told the meeting: "The Trust was keen to hear and carefully consider the views of all stakeholders throughout the consultation period, and used the time to consult widely with service users, relatives, staff and their trades unions, the public and other interested parties. We are incredibly grateful for all those who responded.

"The Trust wants to acknowledge the strength of the responses which were received and the interest and commitment that this demonstrates. We very much welcome the confirmation by the Department of Health that additional funding is being made available to the HSC and that this will be offset against the high impact proposals across all the Trusts.

"After careful consideration of the feedback and following the announcement of additional in-year funding I am pleased to see the high impact proposals did not need to be submitted to Trust Board today.

Following extensive discussions at the Trust Board meeting, it was agreed to recommend four lower impact proposals for implementation." Dr Kilgallen continued: "Health and social care continues to face serious financial pressures and this additional allocation of money offers important short-term respite, however we recognise the best long term way forward to counter these pressures is transformation."

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