Belfast Telegraph

Monday 22 September 2014

Health cuts: 'The system is already under pressure, we just won't cope'

We speak to three people about what they think of the proposed cuts.

The patient

Peri Gillespie (52), from Carrickfergus, has suffered from inflammatory bowel disease (IBD) for 28 years and has been prescribed with Infliximab for the last six years, a drug that some IBD sufferers here may not be prescribed this winter due to health cuts. She is married with three adult children and is the regional chair of Crohn's and Colitis UK.

She says: "I would be devastated to learn that my Infliximab treatment was to be delayed. I think my case is safe enough as I no longer can have further surgery.

"If there wasn't enough money and I was one of the ones that were cut, then it would dramatically affect my life.

"I get Infliximab every eight weeks. Without it, my life would be dramatically impacted as my condition is so severe I can no longer work.

"I have a short bowel, and this means that I don't have enough bowel to survive unaided without artificial feeding and help, such as taking the Infliximab.

"I now have a bag as I don't have a back passage. Without it and Infliximab, I would need to wear pads.

"IBD really impacts on a suffer's quality of life, particularly for any younger person."

The nurse

Garrett Martin (45), from Claudy, has 15 years' experience in emergency care and is married with three school-age children.

He says: "The news of the proposed cuts make for very grim reading.

"Today, nurses are already working in wards that are not appropriately staffed.

"Bank nurses provide a very valuable role in fulfilling short-term vacancies, such as sickness absence and peaks and troughs in demand. They help to hold the whole thing together in terms of maintaining safety and appropriate safety levels.

"This cut will increase the ratio of patients to nurses. It will severely compromise their ability to provide the level of compassionate care that patients deserve.

"Bank and agency nurses provide cover for district nurses who could see their caseload double overnight. There is real fear out there."

The GP

Dr Tom Black is a GP in Londonderry and is also the chair of the Northern Ireland GP committee of the British Medical Association. The 55-year-old is married with five children.

"I signed off a script for a patient today for IVF treatment, and it was probably the most expensive script that I have signed off for a long time.

"Now I would suggest that she takes herself off to the chemist fairly quickly as it just won't be available before too long, such is the depth of the cuts listed by the Health minister.

"I'm more worried at the pressure we'll be under in November and December with the onset of winter illness.

"The Health Minister's document is something the likes of which we've never seen before in Northern Ireland.

"The document is very detailed and really cuts across the whole service.

"We have a system that is already under pressure. We are not in a place where we can absorb any more cuts, let alone unprecedented cuts such as this.

"The system can't sustain this loss of locum doctors or agency nurses – they're the glue that holds the system together.

"And we already have a recruitment and retention crisis in general practice and A&E."

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