Patients will come to harm following budget allocations - Chambers

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Patients will come to harm following budget allocations - Chambers

Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson Alan Chambers MLA has warned that the ongoing budgetary turmoil is compromising patient safety and ultimately likely to cost patient lives. He was speaking after the Department of Health received only a flat cash budget allocation.

Alan Chambers said:


“There are profound challenges facing almost all public service in Northern Ireland. But for the Health Service the problems and possible impacts are on a totally different scale. Decisions not to invest in waiting list initiatives, cancer services and mental health support will have immediate and devastating consequences for patients here.


“Today’s budget allocations – of which I am certain would be very different had we a local Executive and Ministers in place – are going to have profound consequences in both the short term and the long term. A flat cash allocation is in reality a significant reduction for the Department of Health when inflation is factored in. The expectation that any in-year funding will go towards the £300m overspend from last year also makes the prospect of an agreed outcome on health workers pay unlikely. 

“Over the coming days and weeks we are likely going to learn of the scale of damage that is about to inflicted on the wide range of public services here. Before the previous Executive collapsed last February ago all parties, at least publicly anyway, committed to making our health service a priority. Importantly they committed to funding the detailed plans that Robin Swann had produced that clearly set out each of the actions necessary to turn the tide on Northern Ireland’s waiting times position, as well as deliver real and sustainable enhancements for both our cancer and mental health services.

“In the subsequent absence of an Executive those strategies have already only been able to be partially delivered and now we face the danger of funding being withheld entirely.  It is not an exaggeration to say patients will come to harm.


“Once again more people are now going to be forced to make the sometimes impossible decision of paying huge and often unaffordable prices for private treatment or stay at home in distress and in pain relying on ever increasing strengths of medication just to get by. Here in Northern Ireland we rightly don’t tolerate animals suffering and yet thanks to today’s budget allocation we know that will be the inevitable outcome for more of our loved ones."