UK news Fears health services could be scrapped and public not consulted due to new proposal last news
MetiNews.Com - Hospital units and services could be closed without public consultation in a controversial proposal being considered by health bosses, it has emerged.
Breaking News ! "Hospital units and services could be closed without public consultation in a controversial proposal being considered by health bosses, it has emerged. During a fiery evidence session at Stormont's health committee on Tuesday, it was claimed that the Department of Health's permanent secretary, Richard Pengelly, has proposed temporarily removing the requirement for a 12-week public consultation period on changes to the health service.Health Minister Robin Swann did not deny that this is the case, although he stressed that urgent action is required to ensure the health service can function in the event of a second Covid-19 surge.If the proposal gets the green light, it could potentially mean a recently appointed management board - which is to play a key role in rebuilding the NHS as Northern Ireland moves beyond the first Covid-19 surge - could push through sweeping changes without input from the public.A spokeswoman from the Department of Health said no decision has been made on the matter and it will be subject to consultation.However, the development has been met with fury by public service union Unison which has raised serious concerns at any possibility significant changes could be made without consultation.Patricia McKeown, Unison regional secretary, hit out at the lack of consultation with unions to date over the plans to rebuild the health service, describing the management board as "another bureaucratic tier" that lacks representation from frontline workers. "What we have here is a serious reduction in governance and accountability. This proposal can only be seen as an attempt to railroad through their own agenda," she said.The proposed measure was raised at the health committee meeting by Alliance Party health spokeswoman Paula Bradshaw.
.And she asked the minister if he believed it would be appropriate to "keep in place a consultation process that would allow stakeholders to scrutinise and feed into any proposed changes that are coming when you reset your health and social care sector".Mr Swann rejected the description of the management board as a "tight cabal"."It's your interpretation of a large group of highly professional people who have the health and well-being of the people of Northern Ireland at their centre," he said.Mr Swann stressed that Northern Ireland is still in the grip of the Covid-19 pandemic and it is essential to rebuild the health service with this in mind.However, he also argued that it is in dire need of transformation.He said: "The service we had prior to Covid was already on its knees, it's one that had been underfunded, it's one that has seen our healthcare workers and our nurses on strike lines for the first time in 72 years, for the first time ever in Northern Ireland."So this perception that our health service was in a good place prior to Covid, it is only because of Covid that it's in the situation it's in now, is something that I think we have to challenge."Successive expert reports have called for a dramatic overhaul of the way services in Northern Ireland are provided, including a reduction in the number of acute hospitals, while health bosses are currently looking at the way breast cancer, stroke and emergency medicine are being delivered here."
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