Belfast Telegraph

Revealed: full scale of what health cuts mean

By Lisa Smyth

The full scale of the savage cuts to the health budget can be laid bare as the Belfast Telegraph reveals a future of misery for patients across Northern Ireland.

Health bosses have admitted they will fail to meet a range of Government targets laid out to ensure patient safety and minimise suffering for some of the most vulnerable people in society.

Internal documents drawn up by five health trusts - which have been seen by the Belfast Telegraph - warn there will be a shocking litany of failures by the NHS and social services in Northern Ireland in the coming year.

The draft delivery plans - which have to be approved by the Health & Social Care Board and Health Minister before they can be implemented - detail the services each trust will deliver over the next 12 months.

Patricia McKeown from public service union Unison said: "Lives are being put at risk and it is time the public is made aware of what is being planned."

The documents reveal some people are already waiting over a year for basic healthcare and social service provision, and the situation is likely to deteriorate further as health bosses struggle to stay in the black.

Cancer patients, those needing emergency treatment and specialist drugs, patients waiting for diagnostic tests, wheelchair users, dialysis patients and children at risk of abuse are among those who will be particularly hard hit.

Targets some of the trusts have said they will miss over the next 12 months include:

  • Four and 12-hour waiting time limits in A&Es.
  • No patient waiting longer than nine months to commence Nice-approved specialist therapies for rheumatoid arthritis, psoriatic arthritis or ankylosing sponylitis.
  • Length of time for urgent diagnoses, including cancer.
  • Reduction in MRSA cases.
  • No patient waiting longer than 13 weeks to commence Nice-recommended therapies for multiple sclerosis.

The latest details come just days after the Belfast Telegraph exclusively revealed the future of healthcare provision in Belfast.

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