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Health Cuts Fears “Premature” 20 February 2006

    Fears of cuts in front-line services at Noble’s Hospital in the coming financial year are premature, says DHSS Minister Steve Rodan MHK.

    Responding to recent comments made on behalf of hospital consultants, Mr Rodan said:

    “Warnings of health cuts within Noble’s Hospital in the coming financial year are premature, since the share of the DHSS budget for Noble’s, and the Health Service as a whole, for 2006/07 has yet to be determined. It is also premature to state a specific financial shortfall such as £9m”.

    However, the Minister said he had made no secret of the challenges the Department will continue to face. For example, he reminded the House of Keys on 14th February that,

    “despite record levels of Government funding, we are treating record numbers of patients and users of our services”.

    The Department is taking a number of steps (including external financial advice) to meet financial targets and achieve cost savings without unacceptable consequences on front-line services to the public. It will continue to work with Hospital Management in full consultation with clinicians to ensure that Noble’s Hospital is operating as efficiently and cost-effectively as possible within the resources given to it. In doing so, the Department is acutely conscious of the effects that ward closures, ITU closures and reductions in theatre sessions would have. The Department will therefore want to carefully assess the impact of such options, if identified, when considering any cost savings.

    The Minister declared,

    ”We will do all in our power to avoid such cuts, and I am confident that working closely with hospital management and clinicians, we can do so”.

    He added:

    “The public rightly expects the Department to make the best use of the funds available for health services, and a range of options and scenarios are being looked at. But I must stress that no decisions have been taken on these options.”

    Mr Rodan went on,

    “We are listening to, and fully understand, the concerns of the Isle of Man Medical Society and the public over future funding of health services. Those concerns are shared at the highest levels in Government, which is why the Chief Minister is to lead a working group to address the issue of longer-term public funding of the health service. The Healthcare Commission is also due to report with its recommendations on acute healthcare services at Noble’s by April/May.”

    In the meantime, while scrutiny of the Department’s spending, across the board, will continue as part of the proper management of services within allocated budgets, the Minister repeated his assurance that,

    “The Department will do nothing to undermine the high standard of health care at Noble’s Hospital.”

    He concluded,

    “I think the public fully understands that we all have to live within our means. We must get the best possible value for money, avoid waste, and give the best service we can”.

    20th February 2006

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