Reprieve for Whiteabbey as Trust scraps majority of ‘major’ cuts proposals

Whiteabbey Hospital (image Google)
Whiteabbey Hospital (image Google)

A series of controversial proposals which would have seen the closure of wards at Whiteabbey Hospital have been scrapped by the Northern Health and Social Care Trust.

A public consultation on the planned cuts concluded last Thursday.

Among the proposals were:

- to reduce expenditure on high-cost medical locum and agency nursing staff;

- close two wards in Whiteabbey Hospital and day ward;

- close beds in Antrim Area Hospital and Causeway Hospital;

- reduce non-urgent elective day surgery;

- reduce number of community-based rehabilitation beds;

- contain growth in Domiciliary Care packages and Community Placements;

- cease Domiciliary Care Meals provision;

- reduce the use of private ambulances;

- increase parking charges for visitors.

However, the Board of the NHSCT today confirmed that it will be standing down of all the ‘major and/or controversial’ proposals that were submitted under the its Savings Plan, with the exception of that relating to car parking charges at acute hospital sites.

It follows the reallocation of £40million for the health service announced earlier this week.

Speaking following an Extraordinary Board Meeting in Ballymena, Trust Chairman, Bob McCann said: “We would like to thank the public across the whole of the Trust area for the sensitive and dignified way in which they engaged in the consultation process and for the extensive feedback provided. The Board found the process and that feedback invaluable.

“The additional funding announced by the Department of Health is to be welcomed. Whilst the Board recognises its responsibility to deliver financial balance, it was also mindful of the significant collective impact that the proposals would have had on front-line services, particularly if the proposals had been implemented so quickly coming into the winter period.

“I can now confirm that the only ‘major and/or controversial’ proposal which will go forward to the Health and Social Care Board for consideration, is that relating to an increase in car parking charges at acute hospitals. All of the ‘low impact’ normal in-year financial management proposals, amounting to total savings of £6.3 million will proceed as planned.

“However we would stress that there is no room for complacency. Whilst the additional funding provides a temporary reprieve, the major challenges still remain and as a result, we will continue with our ongoing reform agenda. The transformation agenda is essential if we are to have a financially stable and sustainable health service.”