Efficiency targets threaten health service jobs: Public Finance

Around 2,000 health service jobs will be lost in Northern Ireland in the next three years as part of efficiency savings, Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has said.

The cuts are likely to include 700 nursing posts, 900 administrative jobs and 450 posts in social services, although there are unlikely to be redundancies, McGimpsey told the Assembly’s health committee.

There was ‘no choice’ but to make the cuts because his department had to cut costs by £344m, 3% of its budget, over the next three years, he added.

Patricia McKeown, secretary of Unison in Northern Ireland, said: ‘This is a kick in the teeth.’ She added: ‘We won’t accept any cuts in frontline jobs. We will react in any way necessary, including strike action.’ She blamed inadequate funding allocated in the last budget from former finance minister and now first minister Peter Robinson.

McKeown said that trusts had drawn up budget plans without consulting unions, but there would be agreement if they had efficiency savings that did not affect frontline services.

Iris Robinson, the Assembly’s health committee chair, said in a statement: ‘The minister had previously been adamant that there would be no cuts in frontline services. The public will find his stated position difficult to reconcile with the potential loss of thousands of health professionals’ jobs.’

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