Any potential health cuts must be subject to equality impact assessments - McLaughlin
Sinn Féin MLA Maeve McLaughlin has called on the health minister to ensure any potential cuts to the health service are subject to equality assessments.
Speaking after an Assembly debate on the the mishandling of the health budget, the chair of the Assembly's health committee said;
"Everyone recognises the pressures experienced by the health service at the present time.
"However, it should also be remembered that our health budget of £4.6 bn has been protected through budgetary processes.
"As a result of Sinn Féin lobbying, health was allocated £80m in the October monitoring round and an additional £200m in the draft budget.
"The heath minister must explain how, in spite of this, the health budget was so badly mismanaged by his predecessor.
"The situation got so bad that the finance minister publicly criticised the previous health minister, Edwin Poots' handling of the budget, which he described as 'hugely disappointing.'
"Unfortunately Jim Wells appears intent on continuing in this vein with the proposals to close community hospitals and units in Ballycastle, Dungannon and Down.
"It is up to the minister to ensure that any potential cuts are are subject to full equality impact assessments in order to protect frontline services.
"It beggars belief that when we are faced with such cuts we also have £34m paid to consultants in bonuses, increases in administration staff, and up to £65m paid to the independent sector annually."