It’s been claimed that over half of the proposals aimed at saving millions of pounds in the Northern Ireland health service, will affect older people.
The Commissioner for Older People has expressed concern that the elderly are likely to be hardest hit by the measures.
The warning comes as the Health and Social Care Trusts plan to reveal how they will make savings of £70 million pounds before the end of this financial year.
The plans had been subject to a six week consultation process.
Whilst the proposed cuts to services vary across each of the five trusts, cost saving measures include, reducing new domiciliary care packages and care home placements by two thirds, and stopping the provision of community meals, according to the Commissioner.
Responding to the proposals, Eddie Lynch said he was ‘deeply concerned’ by the budget cuts.
In a statement he said: “The majority of the cuts affecting older people are to services within the community. These are services which many older people depend on to live as independently as possible and I’m very concerned about the impact that this will have, both on the older people and on their families. OIder people deserve to have the care that they have been assessed as needing and when this care is not provided, additional pressure falls on family carers, many of whom are older people themselves."
He added that a reduction in services was likely to have a 'very negative impact' on the lives of thousands of older people, their families and carers.
Mr Lynch said: “I appreciate that all five of the Health Trusts have had extremely difficult decisions to make and it is not helpful that there is no Minister nor Executive in place. Whilst there is no doubt that the health service is under pressure, it comes to a point where services cannot be cut any further. I urge the Trusts, along with the Department of Health, to consider the real impact of these cuts on the older people of Northern Ireland and to reduce them.”