Belfast Telegraph

Public meetings to take place at Northern Ireland's hospitals to save £70 million

Public consultation meetings are set to take place next week in all five of Northern Ireland's health trusts in a bid to identify £70 million of savings.

The meetings, which have been described as "extraordinary" will take place in the Ulster Hospital, Knockbracken Healthcare Park, Craigavon hospital, Antrim Area Hospital, and Altnagelvin Area Hospital on Thursday August 24 at 12noon.

All of Northern Ireland's party leaders have been briefed about the meetings.

Speaking on BBC's Stephen Nolan show on Friday morning, John Compton, the Former Health and Social Care Board chief, said he believed people power could influence the situation.

He said: "The public need to have a big say in these health care cuts. They need to express their views and be constructive about it.

"Personal stories are especially important from the public, the assembly needs to hear them."

Janice Smyth, Director of the Royal College of Nursing, said people should be concerned if more money is coming out of the system.

She said: "Hospitals need a certain amount of nurses to keep beds open. Inevitably with these cuts there will be bed closures. Care package hours will also cut which results in the elderly and disabled children getting less care than they need.

"If the budget cut unfolds, there will be less funding going towards nursing homes. This will mean no beds, so elderly patients will have to remain in hospital for the next seven months."

Belfast GP Dr George O'Neill, who works in primary care, stated he sees good things happening in the Health and Social care everyday, but that comes at a price. He said: "My concern is the care of the elderly, children services, mental health and learning disabilities - that is where the money is taken from.

"The waiting lists will definitely increase because clearly the money will be spent on the hospitals or in the private sector. Where I operate in the primary care, we are under tremendous pressure because lack of resources, lack of man power and because of increase in demand."

He added: "This will have a global effect across the service."

Roy Beggs, Ulster Unionist Party, also voiced his concerns on the Nolan show: "What we need is a minister in place and to achieve a working ministerial process back in place.

"Yes we need money urgently but we need long term decisions by the minister and by the executive."

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