The Southern Trust, which includes local hospitals South Tyrone and Craigavon, is predicted to be £28m in the red by the end of the financial year, the highest deficit of Northern Ireland’s six trusts.
The shocking revelation of the financial troubles facing local health services came to light at the Northern Ireland Assembly after a question was tabled to the Department of Health.
Last year, senior health chiefs warned of the devastating impact of further budget cuts, predicting that the shortfalls will mean patient care being compromised, beds closing, targets being missed and emergency departments suffering.
Patients should also expect operations to be delayed, waiting lists to grow, diagnoses to be slower, dirtier wards and residential care homes to close, they claimed.
Belfast Trust is predicted to have the second highest deficit at £27m, followed by the Western Trust at £26m.
The Northern Trust’s shortfall will be £24m and the South Eastern’s £13m.
A Southern Trust spokesperson said: “Discussions with the Health and Social Care Board regarding the Trust’s annual budget are ongoing and a final position has yet to be agreed.”
SDLP MLA Patsy McGlone warned that the two parties on control of the executive were unwilling to take difficult decisions.
“They are, at a fundamental level, unable to make the political commitment required to secure the future of our Health Service,” said the Mid Ulster MLA.