Local Portadown Councillors Alderman Arnold Hatch and Cllr Julie Flaherty attended the Southern Trust Head Quarters for the extraordinary meeting to discuss the 'Savings Plan-Consultation' document which was handed to attendees on entry to the Board Room.
Cllr Flaherty has commented:
"We were repeatedly told this was £6.4 million of ‘savings’. To patients, to staff and to ordinary members of the public they will see these for what they really are - cuts. That is the bottom line. There was no genuine discussion. That will be down to the consultation period.
"After the meeting, and after reading and rereading the document, like most people there I was left with more questions than answers. There was very little detail on the real impact, but be assured there will be."
"If a Health Minister was in place this could be avoided. Some of these issues could absolutely be alleviated if a functioning Executive was in place.
“What we must ask ourselves is what is more important - achieving these ‘savings, pursuing the much hailed transformation plans or tackling spiralling waiting times? All three outcomes cannot be achieved at the same time!"
Concluding, Julie Flaherty said:
"I owe a great debt of thanks to the local Health Trust. The experience I had with my late son will stay with me forever. The level of care and kindness we received as a family was second to none. I cannot accept this level of short term thinking and disregard for the staff and patients this will undoubtedly affect."
Alderman Hatch commented after the meeting:
"This so called consultation process is a farce. I don't think the proposals have been thought through properly at all."
"For example - one of the proposals was to remove the voucher scheme from over 50 pharmacies and deliver incontinence products andwalking aids directly from Belfast through the Business Services Organisation (BSO) who would buy in bulk and deliver directly to the patient. There was absolutely no detail at all on how this would actually work in reality. Many will be concerned that this will just be the latest aspect of the local NHS farmed out to the private sector.
"How would a delivery agent from Belfast deliver to Craigavon more cheaply than a Pharmacist from the area who normally delivers for nothing.
"I await the answer."