South Down MP, Chris Hazzard has said proposals to cut £70 million from local health budgets are designed simply to “apply pressure on political parties" but will only put pressure on patients and our health service".

Speaking at the Southern Trust Consultation event in Newry on Wednesday afternoon; the South Down MP said people were “angry as they can clearly see the political manoeuvrings" of Department of Health officials behind these proposals.

Cllr Oksana McMahon, Sinead Ennis MLA & Chris Hazzard MP at the Southern Trust Consultation event in Ballybot House, Newry.
Cllr Oksana McMahon, Sinead Ennis MLA & Chris Hazzard MP at the Southern Trust Consultation event in Ballybot House, Newry.

Mr Hazzard said “Only last year the former Health Minister Michelle O’Neill launched her plan for transforming the health and social care service; these proposed cuts fundamentally contradict that vital transformation agenda.

“Anyone who understands our health service know these cuts will undermine transformation and lead to further crisis within an already overstretched system. Moreover with unknown winter pressures only around the corner these proposals are madness.

“The British Secretary of State knows that central funds are available to mitigate these pressures; the Department of Health know that resources will be made available; but they have shamefully proceeded with a consultation process to bring pressure to bear on political parties involved in negotiating the return of a local executive at Stormont.

“Its playing politics with peoples lives; and it is totally unacceptable!”