Page last updated at 11:47 GMT, Thursday, 28 January 2010

Michael McGimpsey: health cut plan 'daft'

Surgeons perform operation
The health budget faces at 113m cut as part of Stormont spending plans

Health Minister Michael McGimpsey has painted a dire picture of the state of the health service in Northern Ireland.

He said there will be "severe consequences" if cuts being proposed by the executive are implemented.

Ministers have agreed that £367m needs to be cut from the NI budget next year, with £113m from health.

But giving evidence to the Stormont health committee on Thursday, Mr McGimpsey said they were "daft proposals" which would cause "pain".

The Finance Minister Sammy Wilson has previously insisted that the plans take "a targeted approach" and that health, which has the biggest budget of any Stormont department, will face the lowest level of savings in percentage terms.


However Mr McGimpsey said the cuts were being proposed in the face of unprecedented demands on the health service and that staff were being stretched to the limit.

In a gloomy assessment of the health service, he said there was already a £600m spending gap between NI and the rest of the UK and that his department should be receiving more funding rather than less.

Services for the elderly, children, carers, maternity and mental health were already under severe pressure and would be hit further by the efficiency savings, he added.

Mr McGimpsey said he should have been at the political talks, but what he was discussing with the committee was much more important than what was being talked about at Hillsborough.

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