Chambers calls for facts to be gathered before any rushed decision is taken to scrap key transport service

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Chambers calls for facts to be gathered before any rushed decision is taken to scrap key transport service

Ulster Unionist health spokesperson Alan Chambers MLA has called upon the Department of Health to carry out an impact assessment of the number of people locally who rely on the dial-a-lift service to attend health appointments. The service, which provides approximately 200,000 journeys each year, is at risk of closure in the coming weeks after the Department for Infrastructure confirmed it is currently reviewing its funding.

North Down MLA Alan Chambers said:


“If this really valuable service is allowed to end, I would have serious concerns that for some older people - especially those without the support network of family nearby or friends & neighbours – will ultimately no longer be able to attend their full range of important health appointments.


“I have spoken with a number of users, as well as a range of front-line providers within the local health service, who are genuinely fearful as to how some our most vulnerable people in society will be able to continue to access their service if the dial-a-lift service is scrapped.


“Whilst I fully appreciate that all Executive Departments are facing major funding uncertainty for the next financial year, I am convinced a decision to cease this service to save only £2m would be an example of the Department for Infrastructure being very penny wise but pound foolish.


“I have now written to the Department of Health asking whether it has carried out its own impact assessment, as well as urging the Department to work with the Health and Social Care Trusts to determine the actual number of patients who rely on this service. If the figures aren’t readily available, the Department must instruct the Trusts to carry out even a provisional assessment so that any decision by the Department for Infrastructure is only made in the full knowledge of the facts.


“Over the years there have been far too many examples of Stormont Departments taking short-term budgetary decisions that have gone on to have disastrous long-term implications. This is one issue that is far too important for that same mistake to be made again.”