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'Stop the Cuts' group urge public to protest against health cuts …

The ‘Stop the Cuts’ campaign group have called for a large public turnout for a protest planned before a meeting of the Western Trust this Friday at the Foyle Arena.

The trust board are set to reveal the outcome of the public consultation into planned £12.5m cuts to the heath service.

Stop the Cuts campaigner Shaun Harkin: “Trust Boards across the North are holding ‘extraordinary’ meetings this Friday at noon to present the findings of a sham consultation to institute cuts of £70 million to the health service. We are urging a large turn-out on Friday morning to join people from Derry, Strabane, Omagh, Enniskillen and beyond at the Foyle Arena to make it clear we oppose these cuts and refuse to passively watch our society be destroyed.

“Trust officials have been instructed by unelected Department of Health civil servants under the direction of Tory Secretary of State James Brokenshire to come up with what they term a ‘savings’ plan. The Western Trust board is proposing to reduce the number of beds in hospitals, cut domiciliary care packages, reduce surgeries, lay-off health care workers and to close either Rectory Field or William Street residential care home. These are just some of the unacceptable implications of the cuts.

“The sham consultation has trampled upon equality laws but only to demonstrate there is unanimous public opposition to any further cuts to the health service. Residents have made it clear they do not want to be evicted from their care homes.

“Some have been taken aback at the passion, the level of anger and outrage the planned cuts have provoked. Everyone holds the NHS dear. Except those who want to destroy it and replace it with privatised for-profit care. The Tories have relentlessly attacked the health service for ideological reasons. The Stormont Executive failed to stop austerity and prevent the drive towards privatisation when it was up and running.

“Everyone knows more cuts will leave the health service in a more precarious state. This is a direct threat to all of us who depend on the NHS. Waiting lists are already too long. Workers are already overworked, underpaid and undervalued. Too many corners have already already being cut. It is not an exaggeration to say these cuts could cost lives.

“The Tories think they can use our health service and all our public services as a political football. We can’t depend on Stormont to save our public services. Stop the Cuts campaigners, trade unionists, health workers, political parties, disability rights and community activists will be mobilising in large numbers on Friday. Our numbers make a difference. It’s the only way to send the message that we’re drawing a line and are prepared to fight to defend our health service. We are urging people to join the protests organised in Derry and across the North on Friday at 11:30am.”

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