UNISON yesterday challenged all five Health Trust Boards in Northern Ireland to refuse to comply with a Tory government demand for cuts.
In addresses to all five Trust Board meetings, Unison representatives said: ‘Chair, Board members, ‘We start our contribution by paying tribute to the public and our members who have spearheaded a public campaign over the past 6 weeks – a campaign that has very publically rejected these outrageous and dangerous cuts.
‘It is clear that the very public fight to protect our health and social care services has forced the Department of Health to make its latest announcement. Across Northern Ireland, many patients, clients and staff have breathed a sigh of relief. But all is not as it seems.
‘Let us recap. Five Trusts were told to make £70 million in cuts. All five of you did that by producing outrageous proposals which for 6 weeks caused fear, apprehension and distress for patients, vulnerable adults, and health and social care workers alike.
‘We asked you not to do that, but instead of standing up with the people to press for the resources you need, you rolled over and did what you were told. This is not guardianship of the health service.
‘We have now seen the letter you received from the Permanent Secretary on Wednesday. It is written in a language that rivals any script from the comedy satire Yes Minister. What the letter actually says is not what the public, the media and possibly Non-Executive Directors have been led to believe.
‘From our reading of this letter £40 million has not been restored to the Trust budgets. Instead, only £18 million has been restored and all five Trusts are still required to make £52 million in cuts between them. . .
‘We told you that this consultation was a sham before you started. This latest instruction confirms that it is still a sham. Do not allow this Trust Board to be hung out to dry by either the Department of Health or the Health and Social Care Board. . .
‘We wait in anticipation for you all to do the honourable thing which is to:
• challenge the entire contents of the Department’s letter;
• accept the results of the public consultation, which has clearly called for no cuts to be imposed;
• refuse to recommend any major/controversial cuts to the Department and refuse to approve any cuts you have wrongly characterised as low impact and upon which you have completely failed in your duties to negotiate with Unison.
‘If you do not do so, we will challenge you using all legal means at our disposal, a process that has already begun through the complaint Unison has submitted to the Trust for the major breaches of your equality duties.’