The Commissioner for Older People for Northern Ireland has called for clarity on proposed cuts to the health budget and said that cutting health and social care for older people is not the answer to solving the budget crisis.

“The Health Minister and the Health and Social Care Board appear to be at odds in relation to the ability of the Trusts to deliver older people’s services. This lack of clarity is presenting a confused and worrying picture for older people across Northern Ireland, who deserve to have confidence that their care needs will be met, if and when they need them.

“Any suggestion that there may be cuts to health and social care services and supports for older people is unacceptable. If services are reduced, it will have a devastating impact on the everyday lives of thousands of older people.

“Health and social care, including GP’s, hospital care and homecare packages, are critical in enabling older people to maintain independence and stay in their homes longer. Reduction or removal of these services would appear to go against the move to provide more care in the community under “Transforming Your Care,” and so I would ask the Minister to give an assurance that this is still the direction of travel for the future of health and social care in Northern Ireland.

“It is unacceptable that when cuts are made to health and social services, it is older people who are hit the hardest.

“Older people must be able to have confidence that government will plan and provide the health and social care services that they need, today and in the future, and ensure that they are treated with dignity and respect.”