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Greenfield looks set to avoid Western Trust budget cuts

GREENFIELD Home in Strabane looks set to avoid the axe in the forthcoming round of budgetary cuts within the Western Trust.

Revealed at an ‘extraordinary’ meeting at Trust Headquarters in Derry last month, Trust chief executive, Dr Anne Kilgallen said the Strabane facility would not be affected by new draft proposals.

The North’s five trusts have been asked to deliver a total of £70million savings by the Department of Health. Within the Western Trust, these savings amount to £12.5million.

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Current proposals include reducing the number of locum doctors and agency nurses, paring back the number of domiciliary care and nursing home packages and temporarily reducing daycase elective surgery.

Yet despite the likes of Cancer Care NI saying the “cuts will impact directly on patient care and lead to longer waiting times,” Greenfield has not been ear-marked for any direct diminishment of services. 

However other facilities have not fared as well. Although the finer details have yet to be revealed, daycare services in Gortin stand to be affected.

Emphasising no redundancies will be made in the Trust area, officials admit that proposed in-year savings are nevertheless “major” and “controversial”.

Two of areas set to take the biggest hits are routine elective activity and the temporary reduction of domiciliary care and nursing home packages. 

The draft report states, “There will be a significant deterioration in access to routine elective care provided by the Trust to the population of the Western Trust area… There will be a reduction of approximately 40 elective inpatient beds across both South West Acute (SWAH) and Altnagelvin hospitals.” 

In terms of the reduction in domiciliary care, “An estimated 275 domiciliary care packages will not be put in place, equating to 2,745 care hours per week and 8-10 nursing home beds.”

Unions, politicians and charities have all since criticised the Department’s requirement that all of the North’s trusts embark on this cost-saving exercise.

The North’s largest public sector Trade Union, NIPSA has described as “terrifying”, the latest cuts imposed by the Department of Health.
Speaking in the wake of proposals NIPSA’s higher executive officer, Alan Law says the union is now mobilising a campaign to “resist this destruction of the Health Service.”

“The list of services which will be impacted by the draconian cuts imposed by the DHSSPS spans every area of the Western Trust,” Alan Law stated. “They are so wide ranging that it is simply terrifying the likely impact they will have on anyone attempting to access help from the Trust.

“These plans will see car parking charges soar, prices escalate in the staff restaurants, closure of 70 hospital beds, closure of either William Street Residential Care Home or Rectory Fields in Derry, delays for domiciliary care packages, delays for care home packages, withdrawal from the regional social work out-of-hours emergency response service, closure of wards in the South West Acute Hospital including the stroke unit and the neo-natal ward.”

He concluded, “It is devastating for the dedicated trust staff who will simply not be able to deliver quality health and social care for the citizens of the area. NIPSA along with our colleagues in the trade union movement will be mobilising a campaign to resist this destruction of the Health Service.”

The Western Trust has emphasised that any new proposals form part of an ongoing public consultation exercise.

Chief executive, Dr Anne Kilgallen said, “It is important to note that the draft savings plan is a public consultation and that no decisions have been made regarding the implementation of the proposals contained within the plan.” 

She continued, “We would encourage all members of the public to respond to our consultation which is available on the Trust’s website www.westerntrust.hscni.net or by contacting our Equality Office on (028) 82835834. We will be holding a series of staff and public engagements which will be advertised locally in the media and via our website and social media sites.”
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