We were also assured that the Ulster would be able to provide adequate resources to meet the health needs of the residents of North Down. This is clearly not the case.
The proposed closure of the two units at Bangor hospital will not only renege on this agreement but will put a 16% increase on the A&E unit at the Ulster .This can only be met by a significant increase in resources(staffing)of will inevitably lead to reduction in the quality of health care,
These cuts are not a recent development. They result from a long term underfunding of the Health Service and financial mismanagement. To demand the Trust make savings of five million pounds in the last five months of the financial year to go is clearly evidence of panic. Instead of developing a longer term strategy of cuts the trust is forced to cut the easiest and most vulnerable options. That is why we are faced with the cuts at Bangor Hospital.
The underfunding is a long standing problem dating back to the 2007 programme for Government when the DUP along with Sinn Fein decided to freeze the Health Budget for four years while Westminster raised the English NHS Budget by 4% per annum. Therefore by 2011 the Northern Ireland health budget was more than 10% behind England with a structural underfunding up to £800 million. This has resulted in excessively long waiting lists, drugs ( cancer drugs available in England but not in Northern Ireland) and totally unacceptable A&E waiting times as at the Ulster.
Health in Northern Ireland had become a political football as the DUP tried to embarrass and attack the Unionist Health Minister Michael McGimpsey. You can see in Hansard I made this point at least four occasions but no one listened.
Chickens are now coming home to roost. Even the former DUP Health Minister admitted that the Health Budget was inadequate and was immediately sacked.
In light of the political pressure and united council and the public response I believe this decision can be overturned.
I would call upon the Health Minister to reverse these cuts in response to the unanimous vote of this council and the massive public opinion who opposed to the cuts and the inevitable reduction in health services in Bangor.