Belfast Health Trust plans to ration services will put lives at risk

Health campaigner calls on unions to build for mass demonstration The Belfast Health and Social Care Trust have announced plans to cut emergency surgery from the City and Mater hospitals and centralise the service in the Royal Victoria Hospital by 2013. Centralising emergency surgery in the Royal Victoria can, in and of itself, potentially put lives at risk due to increased travel time for patients. However, this is just the beginning.

A&E units that can’t carry out emergency surgery simply cannot function effectively. De
spite their claims, it’s clear that the Trust management plan to run the units at the City Hospital and the Mater into the ground and ultimately close them. This would leave the Royal Victoria the only hospital in Belfast capable of dealing with patients in an emergency- people will die unnecessarily if this is allowed to happen.

 

Centralisation will inevitably come with cuts in beds and staff, as we have seen with the Trust’s plans for acute mental health services in the city. They say this is about making services more efficient. Really, they are rationing services to deal with the £813 million health cuts the Assembly has voted through in the past year.

I welcome the condemnation of the Trust’s plans from Unison and the Royal College of Nursing. Now, they must take action to defend these essential services and their members’ jobs. All unions in the health sector should now build for a mass demonstration in the autumn to begin a fight against all cuts to public services.

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