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No, I have only a short time left.
The Health Department has a unique arrangement with DFP, which allows it first call on money made available at each monitoring round. We all welcome that. To go down the route of making the Health Department exempt from the CSR process sounds great, idyllic and the best thing to do. However, that would have a knock-on effect on other Departments. All Ministers struggle to meet the CSR demands and all Ministers have targets to meet. We all need to realise where we are. The amendment would have an impact on the other Departments. Where would we take the money from? Should we take it from social housing or from education? We would have to take it from another public service. That would be a hard decision, and one that the Executive would have to make.
We need Michael McGimpsey, the Minister of Health, to step up and do the job that he has been appointed to do. In an earlier debate in February on efficiency savings in the Health Service, he made it clear that he has the final say in all those matters. The trust proposals come to the Minister for his approval, and he said:
“If formal consultations do not produce a clear position, cuts will simply not get through.” — [Official Report, Vol 37, No 6, p316, col 1].
On that basis, I urge the Minister to examine in detail the proposals that are being put forward by the trusts, and to reject any measures that will result in cuts in nursing posts, as that would have a direct impact on front line services. I support the motion.