§ 9. Mr. Randall
asked the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland if he will indicate the number of ancillary workers currently employed by the Eastern Health and Social Services Board in Northern Ireland.
§ Mr. Chris Patten
At the end of last year 6,451 ancillary workers were employed by the Eastern Health and Social Services Board.
§ Mr. Randall
Will the Minister confirm that the Eastern Health and Social Services Board budget has been slashed by the Government to the tune of £4.6 million? Will he tell the House what that will mean in terms of job losses? Is the hon. Gentleman aware that if we get the 600 job losses that have been speculated about in various newspaper reports, that will mean the cancellation of new services, a reduction of beds and longer waiting lists? Would that not be regarded as a serious blow to the people of Northern Ireland?
§ Mr. Patten
I am afraid that the hon. Gentleman's question is based on something that is not true. The budget of the Eastern Health and Social Services Board will be going up next year, on the figures for this year. Therefore, I am afraid that what the hon. Gentleman referred to cannot qualify as a cut.