DUP and Sinn Féin blame each other for proposed health cuts
THE DUP and Sinn Féin have blamed each other for the sweeping health service cuts outlined yesterday.
DUP deputy leader Nigel Dodds claimed the proposals were a direct result of the "intransigence of Sinn Féin and their refusal to restore the Northern Ireland Assembly".
The party's former health minister Edwin Poots also claimed Sinn Féin "failed to bring forward a budget before they collapsed the executive, and desperately needed health reforms have been stymied over the last year".
However, Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín claimed the cuts were not linked to the crisis at Stormont and blamed the DUP for backing "Tory austerity".
"Many of the proposals outlined are completely unacceptable and would represent a direct attack on front-line services for some of our most vulnerable citizens, including cuts to hundreds of care packages for 75-year-olds, and will be fiercely opposed by Sinn Féin."
SDLP leader Colum Eastwood said he did not believe the trusts should or could make the cuts.
"There is no way that savings of this magnitude can be achieved without compromising on patient safety and delivery of care."
He added that health "must not be a political football" and called on all the parties to take part in talks to discuss the crisis.
Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs, Alliance MLA Kellie Armstrong and Green Party leader Steven Agnew also said the cuts highlighted a need to restore power-sharing.