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Health budget not fair after all, Mr Poots?

Back last March, when Michael McGimpsey opposed the Northern Ireland Budget, members of the DUP queued up to pronounce how the Budget settlement was fair and sufficient.

Now, with Edwin Poots in charge, the talk is all about raising extra funds from the sick and their dependants, or reducing already dangerously overstretched services.

Whether it is a prescription administration charge (a tax on the sick to me), car parking charges, birth (caesarean section) taxes, or any other form of charges, the fact remains: we don't have enough money to run a modern, safe health service.

Allied to these suggested new charges, we have hospital accident and emergency units closing down and longer waiting lists. We have the crisis in the pharmacy service, with a desperate drive to use cheaper drugs, as opposed to appropriate drugs. Now Mr Poots is set to make frontline service-providers redundant.

Ultimately, these are not the much-trumpeted efficiency savings the DUP claimed were available. These are dangerous, swingeing cuts based on the false premise that the health budget is adequate when clearly it isn't.

ULTONIAN

Portadown, Co Armagh

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