Belfast Telegraph

Editor's Viewpoint: Trust should explain no-deal Brexit plans

It is disgraceful that the two main political parties in Northern Ireland treat the electorate with utter contempt by refusing to go back to Stormont and do the jobs they were elected to, but the Belfast Health Trust has added insult to injury with its patronising refusal to disclose what emergency plans it has in the event of a no-deal Brexit
It is disgraceful that the two main political parties in Northern Ireland treat the electorate with utter contempt by refusing to go back to Stormont and do the jobs they were elected to, but the Belfast Health Trust has added insult to injury with its patronising refusal to disclose what emergency plans it has in the event of a no-deal Brexit

Editor's Viewpoint

It is disgraceful that the two main political parties in Northern Ireland treat the electorate with utter contempt by refusing to go back to Stormont and do the jobs they were elected to, but the Belfast Health Trust has added insult to injury with its patronising refusal to disclose what emergency plans it has in the event of a no-deal Brexit.

By saying that revealing the plans would only cause alarm among the public must rate as one of the most feeble excuses by any public body for declining a legitimate request for information.

As virtually everyone who has responded to this newspaper's story on the Belfast Health Trust's attitude has said, that reply is more likely to cause alarm than anything else.

In recent months, we have had more than a fair share of alarming stories about the potential effect of a no-deal Brexit, but these have largely been economic or business related. When it comes to something as vital as health services, the public is entitled to know what the experts believe could happen. Then members of the public can make their own informed judgement and act accordingly.

There is a growing arrogance among public bodies which makes them feel entitled to decide what is good for the public to know and what is not. They forget the fundamental basis of how they operate - as public service bodies, serving the people who ultimately pay their wages through taxation.

We are not living in a province, or a time, when we regard everything in the health service as rosy. For a start, there are a staggering 7,436 vacancies in the health and social care here.

These include 126 consultant posts and almost 2,400 nursing posts, but the gaps in provision cover virtually every sector in health and social care, both in hospital and in the community.

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It is a service under enormous strain and having to spend huge sums of money it can ill afford on locums and agency nurses to plug the gaps.

In other areas like the ambulance service, crews from the Republic of Ireland have on occasion had to cross the border to help out their colleagues here.

Enormous credit is due to staff in all sectors of the service for providing the level of service which they do against almost insuperable odds.

Surely it is not asking too much for a health trust to explain how it intends to continue treating people if Brexit creates additional problems.

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