09/09/2010 - Ulster: More NHS cuts on the way?

SOLIDARITY TRADE UNION understands that cuts in the Health Service in Ulster will now be much deeper than expected.

Initially, it was thought that Health Minister Michael McGimpsey had to save £113m as part of cuts imposed by the Stormont Executive earlier this year.

However, many people were under the impression that all other funding for the NHS was safe – that it had been ringfenced and could not be touched.

But reports reaching us paint another picture altogether.

We’ve been told that the Belfast Health and Social Care Trust – which employs 22,000 staff and assumes responsibility for services to over 340,000 patients – has already started targeting services. 

These include the ‘soft options’ of Domestic Services and Transport.  We’ve been told that these two departments will not be able to recruit new staff for a period of two years.  Both Domestic Services and Transport are woefully under-staffed at present – new staff are vitally needed to cope with the existing work levels.

To add insult to injury, we’ve also been advised that hours are to be cut for Domestic Services and Transport staff as well.  It’s still unclear if this means that they’ll be expected to do more work in less time - or that their working hours will be reduced which will affect their wage packet.

Everyone is now anxiously looking at the calendar.  It’s thought that October will herald what Jim Wells – the Health Committee Chairman – has described as “the mother of all budgets.”

Only then will the true extent of the cuts be known.  NHS workers are now wondering how many more jobs will be axed?

SOLIDARITY would like to thank our contact in the Royal Victoria Hospital, Belfast, for much of the above information.  As we’ve already mentioned – see our July article This is Solidarity calling ‘N’ – we’d appreciate it if any whistleblowers could get in touch with us as soon as possible. 

The article about the NHS budget cuts in Ulster is a good example of the workplace articles we’d like to carry.  Tothis end, we’d like to build an infrastructure of members or supporters who can supply us with accurate anddetailed workplace information.  We’re keen to report on all sections of British industry. 
As is the case with all whistleblowers who contact us, your identity will remain a secret. 

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