O'Dowd slams Poots for 'casting fear'

O'Dowd slams Poots for 'casting fear'

Sinn Féin MLA John O'Dowd has criticised Health Minister Edwin Poots for scaremongering over health cuts, calling a leaked ministerial paper a "political publicity document".

The Education Minister, speaking on behalf of Health Committee Chair Maeve McLaughlin, called the Health Minister's document "totally unacceptable".On Thursday, the leaked document revealed that Mr Poots has laid down an ultimatum over cost-cutting measures.He has asked the Executive for £80m in order to work within budget or for them to agree to impose measures that he warned "will affect the most vulnerable in our society".It comes after his department was promised £20m in the June Monitoring Round of the Stormont budget and not the £160m the minister had been seeking.Mr O'Dowd told UTV he does not see the proposals contained within the document getting past the Executive."I'm disappointed that we've seen a document that is not presented for health cases, it's not a budget document, it's a political publicity document which has caused great concern in the community."Mr O'Dowd said he was concerned about Mr Poots' threats over frontline services and the impact on the most vulnerable in society.I believe that the document was produced to create a media and public reaction, which I do not think is acceptable because we shouldn't be casting fear into our society about our health services.John O'Dowd, Sinn Féin"Minister Poots need to engage with the Executive about the scale of the issues he faces but we also need to hear from Minister Poots, as Minister, how he's going to lead the Department of Health."But Mr O'Dowd added his party would support continued investment in the health service in addition to funds outlined.The strain on the health service is evident as this week the number of patients waiting at the Royal Victoria Hospital's A&E reached over 100 at its peak.Some were waiting for over 22 hours for a bed.On Wednesday, one health worker likened the situation to a "volcano building up" and warned that things would get worse in the winter season.Dr Tom Black, chairman of the British Medical Association's NI GPs Committee, has warned that cuts facing the health service are "not acceptable or sustainable" and will put people's lives at risk.He said the health service in NI has never faced cuts on the scale that are being proposed.These things in combination mean that people will suffer more from their illnesses and lives will be put at risk.Dr Tom Black, BMA"These cuts will mean longer waits in A&E, they will mean longer waits to see your GP, particularly Out of Hours," Dr Black told UTV."I would expect some centres for A&E and for GP Out of Hours will have to close because there won't be funding and there won't be staffing levels to cover them."We will wait longer for outpatient appointments and we will wait longer for operations."The leading doctor has called on politicians to come to a solution for the sake of public health."Politicians are very quick to point the finger at us if we didn't do our job and quite correctly," Dr Black added."Politicians in Northern Ireland do not usually play political football with the health service and yet we see the health service suffering."And I'm not pointing the finger at anyone - what I would like the politicians to do is to go off and stop the confrontation, reach consensus and solve the problem for the health service."I wonder who will be chairing the Health Committee next week Ms McLoughlin or Mr O'Dowd, she seems to have lost her voice.— Edwin Poots (@edwin_poots) August 29, 2014


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