£30-40m health service funding shortfall must not compromise patient safety – McGimpsey

Ulster Unionist Health Committee member, Michael McGimpsey MLA, has warned the Health Minister to act urgently to avoid lives being lost as the situation across Northern Ireland’s health service continues to deteriorate.

The South Belfast MLA said;

“The Health Service faces enormous financial challenges in 2015/16 and at this stage, there is an unresolved financial gap of some £30m-£40m. Worryingly this is after the commitment to deliver savings of £160m, most from the already overstretched Health Trusts, and which also assumes that there will be no service developments.

“The Health Department is planning to bid for £89m of additional resources in the June Monitoring Round, despite the Finance Minister warning there will be very little extra resources available at all.

“The Health Service is in the midst of a financial crisis. This is not something that might happen, or is set to occur in the future – it is happening right now. The actual impact of it is evident in spiralling hospital waiting times, worsening cancer diagnosis times and collapsing staff morale.

“A frightening range of specialties are all reporting immense pressures and worsening service provision. These include trauma & orthopaedics, general surgery, urology, ENT and pain management.

“In a leaked document the Health and Social Care Board has also warned that ‘increased waiting times for assessment may result in delayed diagnosis of a serious or life-threatening condition with reduced likelihood of a successful outcome.’

“The situation is becoming more dire as every week passes. Unfortunately however I believe the Minister and some of his senior officials are still being deliberatively evasive as to what exactly they are doing to resolve it. Simply sitting back until the money runs out is not a viable solution; lives are literally being placed at risk.”

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