We have fought to champion Health needs, other parties must do the same - Beattie

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We have fought to champion Health needs, other parties must do the same - Beattie

A week ahead of the proposed Assembly budget vote, Ulster Unionist Party leader, Doug Beattie MC MLA, has highlighted the work he and party colleagues have undertaken to address the cut in Health funding.

“As we enter the critical last week before the budget is put before the Assembly, the Ulster Unionist Party continue to work towards a better financial outcome for our Health and Social Care sector.

“In the time since the Budget was agreed at the Executive meeting in April, we have been engaging extensively in an effort to resolve the widely accepted deficit in the Health allocation. We have met and discussed the issue with other party leaders, senior civil servants, the Northern Ireland Office Officials and with senior officials at Number 10. The Health Minister will be in London on Monday for the announcement on the Infected Blood scandal and while he is there, he will also be engaging with senior government Ministers and officials on the financial issues facing Health in Northern Ireland.

“As we engage at a UK Government level, it is clear that, if our Health and Social Care system is to transform, it requires more money as promised by the DUP and Sinn Fein in their manifesto commitments, with both promising £1Billion extra for Health.

“They must also live up to their promises, which they made before the Executive was reformed, when they said Health will be the priority; a 2.3% or £183million reduction in Health spending is not making it a priority. All Parties repeatedly stated that tackling the waiting times position would be one of the main priorities for the full Executive, yet astonishingly precisely zero additional targeted resource was granted under the Budget that was proposed and ultimately agreed. The Assembly will shortly be tested on the appropriateness of that lack of funding in the coming days.    

“As the leader of the Ulster Unionist Party, I want us to be part of a cohesive and collaborative devolved government in Northern Ireland.  However, it is right that as the party that holds the Health Ministry, we must stand up for the sector, its doctors, nurses, clinical and non-clinical staff. If the budget does not change, if the unworkable allocation for Health is not improved, we cannot support it and I will direct my MLAs and Minister to vote against the budget when it comes before the Assembly on the 28th May.

I believe there is a window of opportunity to change path, things that can be done to deal with this issue and the Executive parties must commit to Health being a priority in deeds, not just in words.”