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Tackling health inequalities must be central to the delivery of health - Maeve McLaughlin

8 February, 2014 - by Maeve McLaughlin


I took on the role of Chairperson of the North’s Health Committee when I replaced my friend and colleague Sue Ramsey due to her illness and I want to wish Sue a full and speedy recovery.  The role has been a baptism of fire and quite an eye opener.

The Health Service in the North is focused on the Transforming Your Care agenda which is about transferring £83m from Acute to Primary and Community Care – a laudable principle on paper but there’s nothing in this framework that provides us with targets for our health inequalities and demonstrates how we will have better health outcomes as a result. 

Tackling Health Inequalities must be central to the delivery of health and social care provision and these proposals.  Early intervention and prevention is central.  We spend £4.6billion per year on Health and Social care and employ 70,000 staff.  The reality is that shared health has not been shared equally across all people in our society. Life expectancy of someone in affluent areas is around 10 years more than those in deprived areas. The top three constituencies in terms of health Inequalities are West Belfast, North Belfast and Foyle.

Six county Health Minister DUP Edwin Poots has staggered from one crisis to another, Child Sexual exploitation and an inquiry with no statutory power, residential care and a lack of rights for our elderly community, childrens heart services, Termination guidelines,  High court over Trade Union appointment, High court over ban on blood donation from Gay community, EU directive preventing care to asylum seekers, Debate on Tobacco restrictions to protect children and young people and a crisis in our Emergency departments

All of these issues dragged through a legal process are a blatant misuse of public funding. It is time the Minister introduced equality into the Health Service

The reason for the Crisis situations in our Emergency care departments lies with the management of our health system, not the hard working doctors and nurses.

Care from the cradle to the grave cannot be realised if our elderly care homes are being closed. 15miniutes care packages daily are scandalous. Surely if we are serious about care at home than an investment is required.   

Transforming your Care cannot be a “privatisation charter”; Serious issues have arisen with private equity companies who maximise profit to the detriment of their patients. Delivery of Health provision cannot become Care on the Cheap!

The area of Childrens Heart surgery and Organ donation and Health innovation provide a real example of the opportunity of all Ireland solutions to deliver and cherish equally the health of all of the children of the nation.

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