This afternoon at Leaders' Questions, Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly TD called on the Taoiseach to introduce a statutory ‘duty of candour’ in order to ensure that there is truth and honesty in the aftermath of a mistake in the health system.
Speaking about the case of Alison McCormack covered in last night’s RTÉ Investigates programme Teachta O’Reilly said:
“People should feel safe in our hospitals, they should be sure that they are getting the right care and the best possible care. They should be able to trust the advice of medical professionals and rest assured that the advice given is in their best interest.
“They should also be confident that when a mistake has been made and medical professionals and hospitals or other health institutions become aware of it, that they will be informed and all will be done to rectify the situation.
“That is what should naturally happen in a well-run health service.
“However, that this did not happen in the case of Alison McCormack is incredibly worrying.
“Compassion and honesty should be evident at all levels of the health service, and even more so at the higher institutional levels of our hospitals and the HSE.
“Nobody is saying that a health service will be without human error. But when a mistake is made there should be an apology and the relevant parties informed.
“Patients are at a disadvantage when an error occurs – what we saw last night was the system circling the wagons, and wilfully withholding information from a patient.
“We cannot allow this to keep happening and I believe the best way to address this situation is to have a legal ‘duty of candour’ to make it mandatory for health professionals to disclose information when mistakes have been made.
“Minister Varadkar, who did a u-turn as Minister for Health to not make it mandatory for open disclosure and he seems to think the current situation is suitable, but I fundamentally disagree. The practice of keeping quiet when things go wrong is so prevalent in our medical culture that only a statutory ‘duty of candour’ will address the situation.
“We need to try to create a culture of openness and honesty, especially at the higher levels of our hospitals and the HSE and we also need to support staff and ensure that honesty, openness, and transparency are integral to healthcare provision."
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation, Maurice Quinlivan TD, today criticised the government for kicking the can of ticket touting down the road again, as the Sinn Féin 'Sale of Tickets Bill' faces further delays.
Speaking today Deputy Quinlivan said;
“In May 2017, Sinn Féin’s anti-ticket touting legislation came for second stage debate. The government then put down an amendment to delay the progress of this bill by nine months for no reason whatsoever.
“These nine months have now expired and yesterday I moved a motion in the Dáil to refer the Sale of Tickets Bill to the Committee on Business, Enterprise and Innovation for third stage debate.
“This morning I received news that my bill will now be referred for a money message, a method employed by Taoiseach Varadkar to stop opposition bills in their tracks, which essentially kills opposition bills.
“Today my colleague Pearse Doherty TD highlighted that there are currently 28 such bills waiting for money messages, and the real agenda here is not to question whether there will be a cost to the state, but rather to stop opposition bills progressing any further.
“Today I have also become aware that the government is now considering supporting a brand new anti-ticket touting bill, further delaying the process, and ensuring this problem of ticket touting continues for the foreseeable future.
“Ticket touting is an attack on consumer’s rights and it deserves to be addressed immediately. People are rightly fed up getting ripped off by touts when they are trying to buy tickets for a match or concert.
“Unfortunately this government is more concerned with ensuring every Bill that passes through the Oireachtas has a Fine Gael stamp on it rather than on solving actual problems.
“Personally I do not care whose name is on the ticket touting bill, once the problem is stamped out once and for all.”
Young people have a stake in society and should be able to exercise the right to vote at 16, Sinn Féin MLA Caoimhe Archibald has said.
Addressing the NUS-USI Further Education Conference in Belfast today, the East Derry MLA said the Scottish referendum had proved that younger voices make a positive contribution to political debate.
“During the Scottish Independence Referendum the vote was extended to 16 and 17-year-olds,” she commented.
“Eighty percent of 16 and 17 year olds registered and 75 per cent turned out to vote.
“Sinn Fein strongly believe that extending franchise to 16 years would be positive democratically and encourage young people to engage politically.
“Young people should not be forced to depend on older voters to represent their distinct interests and varied values.
“Votes at 16 would close the gap between political representatives and the younger electorate, laying the foundations for political engagement throughout their lives at a younger age.
“Young people have a stake in society and are significantly and directly affected by the policies and decisions of political parties. Young people deserve to have a say in the future of the society that they will live in.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said there can be no rolling back from what was agreed in the December communique between the British government and the EU and that it must be turned into a legally binding document.
Martina Anderson said:
"Since the agreement between the British government and the EU in December the Tories have been trying to renege on and resile from what was agreed.
"That is why it is vitally important that what was contained in the communique is written into a legally binding treaty in its entirety as soon as possible.
"Now we have reports that the backstop that would ensure there was no regulatory divergence across the island of Ireland will not be written into the Withdrawal Agreement but included as a protocol.
"This was the backstop described by Taoiseach Leo Varadkar as a 'bullletproof' and 'cast iron' guarantee. If he is serious about that then he and his government must ensure it is included in the treaty currently being drafted.
"It needs to be included in the Withdrawal Agreement and we need to see action and not just words from An Taoiseach in order to safeguard the rights of people in the north.
"We cannot allow any regression of rights and the British government cannot be allowed to role back on commitments made."
Sinn Féin spokesperson on rural and community affairs Carol Nolan TD said she is ‘shocked’ to find out that only 0.3% of the LEADER Programme 2014 has been spent since the commencement of the Programme.
Speaking in the Dáil, Sinn Féin TD spokesperson on Agriculture Martin Kenny answered a question submitted by Deputy Carol Nolan spokesperson on Rural Development.
Teachta Kenny said;
"Minister Ring was asked for an update on the status of the current LEADER Programme funding and to indicate how the programme was performing in comparison to the previous programme.
“It was confirmed that the programme has only paid out €661,844 or 0.3% of the €250 million European Fund, as compared with 4.4% of a €400m fund paid during the same 18month period of the previous programme.
"The LEADER programme spans for seven-years, which was intended to run from 2014 to Dec 2020. However, the programme did not in fact become operational until July 2016, which has reduced the delivery time to 4.5yrs.”
The question was submitted by Deputy Nolan amid widespread anecdotes that the application process of the current programme is substantially more bureaucratic and cumbersome than before and has militated against project promoters applying for grants and project developers drawing down funds.
Deputy Nolan said;
“I submitted the Parliamentary Question to Minister Ring because I heard first hand that there was a problem.
“At a time when Exchequer receipts were at an all-time low, an unspent European fund of €250 million is scandalous. The LEADER fund is, in effect, a Dormant Account.
“The significant change in delivery of this Programme compared to all previous programmes since LEADER I back in 1991, is that this Programme is now being operated by the Local Authorities.
“For more than two decades the LEADER programme was delivered by autonomous LAGS and was remarkable in its efficiency and performance record.
“We are gravely concerned as to whether the LEADER programme can attain 100% spend by 2020 and have indicated that there are still many unanswered questions.
“I will be seeking further insight into the spatial distribution of payments and my colleague Deputy Martin Kenny indicated that he would like an account of the performance of the Programme in the Border Counties.
“I will also be seeking an outline of the Department’s strategy to ensure that every cent of the €200m project fund is paid out to rural communities.
“Finally, I will be asking what measures the Department is putting in place to ensure that none of this fund is de-committed, and utilised to the fullest extent.”
Sinn Féin National Chairperson Declan Kearney has challenged the recent attacks on the Good Friday Agreement from Brexiteers in England.
"Since 1998 the Good Friday Agreement has been under continuous attack from those within political unionism who remain opposed to the architecture and spirit of the Agreement.
"They have been persistent in their attempts to undermine the GFA and prevent its full implementation.
"The political crisis which has existed since December 2016 is the culmination of almost 20 years of kick back against the GFA from within political unionism.
"The reckless and highly irresponsible comments from some Brexit extremists in England exposes their own shallow and selfish disregard for the Irish peace process. Their interventions amount to a wrecker’s charter against the GFA and have the potential to further exacerbate the political crisis in the north.
"Instead of giving cover to those within political unionism who want to destroy the Agreement these opportunists would be better served addressing the mess that their extreme Brexit views has imposed on their own constituents in England.
"In the absence of political agreement on the reestablishment of power sharing and partnership institutions the two governments should move decisively to ensure full implementation of the GFA.”
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has called for urgent humanitarian action in response to increased bombing in Syria in recent days.
Martina Anderson said:
"The recent increase in bombing in Eastern Ghouta in Syria in recent days has led to a terrible humanitarian crisis.
"Hospitals and other healthcare facilities have been bombed in what leading international human rights organisations are calling a clear war crime.
"At least 250 people have been killed in the constant aerial bombing and the area is being devastated.
"There is an urgent responsibility on the international community and the EU in particular to act to address the huge humanitarian crisis in Eastern Ghouta.
"There is also a need to intensify efforts to find a lasting solution to the ongoing conflict in Syria through dialogue and negotiation."
Sinn Féin Louth TD Gerry Adams has accused the government of “failing young people in need of mental health supports”.
The Louth TD revealed that in the Community Healthcare Organisation Area 8, which covers Laois/Offaly, Longford/Westmeath and Louth/Meath, “the number of staff required to meet the Vision for Change recommendations is just over 60% of the number identified”.
Teachta Adams said:
“There are 172,373 young people between the ages of 0-18 living in CHO8. This region has the greatest number of young people in the state. Despite that, this region only has 94.4 whole time equivalents in post or 60% of the number recommended in Vision for Change - the strategy document which sets out the direction for Mental Health Services. That report recommended that CHO8 required 151.7 whole time equivalents.
“Last June, as a result of work by my colleague Louise O’Reilly TD which revealed that CAMHS teams were operating with just 53% of the staff necessary under a ‘A Vision for Change’. There were promises made by government that this disastrous staffing gap would be addressed.
“This was especially true after the Seanad Public Consultation Committee Report on Children’s Mental Health Services found that the increase in mental health problems and in child population had not been matched by an increase in services.
“However, we now know that CAMHS teams across the state are on average only at 56.1% of the total staff needed.
“While Louth/East Meath, which is part of CHO8, is slightly better off at 62%, the CAMHS teams are dealing with a greater number of young people and the availability of staff is still a matter of serious concern.
“Last week, the Children’s Rights Alliance published its annual report. According to the Alliance, ‘there were 6,811 children under the age of 17 waiting for a community-based psychology appointment at the end of July 2017; a third had been waiting over a year. 394 Children aged five to 17 make up 80 per cent of people waiting for an appointment nationwide.’
“This is a disgraceful consequence of government failure to investment properly in mental health services. Children who need mental health supports are not getting it. ‘A Vision for Change’ recommends that youth mental health services be fully staffed at 1,047 whole time equivalent staff.”
Sinn Féin Finance Spokesperson Pearse Doherty TD has today written to the Finance Committee requesting that an invitation be sent to Permanent TSB asking the bank to attend the Committee next week regarding their threatened sale of a loan book.
Deputy Doherty said:
“I have written to the Clerk of the Committee this morning asking that PTSB be called in as soon as possible. There is massive public concern at their proposal to sell thousands of mortgages.
The Committee should be given the chance to express that concern. PTSB have an obligation to answer questions from TDs and Senators being contacted by concerned homeowners, all the more so as this is a bank owned by the people.
I hope all members of the Committee can support my call and that such a meeting can take place as soon as possible.”
Sinn Féin health spokesperson Deputy Louise O’Reilly has said that the implementation of full capacity protocol 3,541 times in hospitals across the state in 2017 is a signal of a health service beyond crisis point.
Teachta O’Reilly said:
“Full capacity protocol is a hospital’s highest level measure for dealing with emergency department overcrowding. In a properly functioning health service it should be implemented only in exceptional circumstances.
“That it was invoked 3,541 in hospitals across the State in 2017 is unacceptable and a signal of a health service beyond crisis point, for patients and staff. It is the last stage of escalation under a national framework issued in 2015 to hospitals to deal with overcrowding.
“The situation was particularly severe in Waterford where full capacity protocol was invoked on 327 occasions, Limerick saw it 294 times, Letterkenny 242 times, and Galway 298 times.
“When full capacity protocol is invoked much of the normal activity of the hospital is suspended, additional patients are moved onto wards and hallways outside of emergency units and oftentimes elective surgeries at the hospital can be cancelled.
“Some hospital consultants have relayed to me that because of full capacity protocol being invoked continuously and huge numbers of patients on trolleys that electives surgeries haven’t been carried out in their hospitals since before Christmas.
“The situation puts huge pressure on patients and their families and it puts huge pressure on staff in our hospitals.
“Imagine how it feels for patients whose surgery has been cancelled at the eleventh hour when they are in chronic pain and may have arranged time off work or for someone to look after their children. This is the outworking of the invocation of full capacity protocol.
“All the while the staff we have are doing an amazing job, but the situation is demoralising for them. They are under severe pressure, they are overworked and underpaid.
“The addressing of the staffing and capacity crisis in our hospitals is moving at a snail’s pace despite this being this being a national emergency. We need to see the full weight of the Department of Health, the HSE, and the Government put behind addressing this crisis in order to scale back this crisis."
Sinn Féin Foyle MP Elisha McCallion has welcomed extra funding in principle which has been secured for a crisis intervention service in the city.
Elisha McCallion said:
“I welcome confirmation from the Western Local Commissioning Group that £30,000 of extra funding in principle has been approved towards establishing a crisis intervention service in the city.
“Getting this service up and running has been a priority for me locally for quite some time in an attempt to tackle the mental health problems which exist in the north west. This won’t solve all problems, but it will provide vital support to individuals who are experiencing a mental health crisis and their families and friends.
“The proposed crisis service will offer a safe space for those at crisis point. Many vulnerable people when brought to our accident and emergency department are required to wait in public for long periods. This is inappropriate.
“Trained workers and staff will also provide support while patients are waiting to be referred to the relevant agencies.
“Today’s confirmation demonstrates a clear commitment to the service from stakeholders and statutory agencies in this city, the tender process is now open and I would encourage people to apply, you can do so by visiting the Derry City & Strabane District Council website.”
Sinn Féin TD for Sligo-Leitrim Martin Kenny today called again on Health Minister Simon Harris TD to compassionately intervene to encourage the HSE and the drug company Biomarin and find a way to provide the drug Vimizin to the two little girls who depend on it
Deputy Kenny said:
“The two girls, Grace McIntyre from Leitrim and Cezy Fosca from Kilkenny have the potentially life-threatening and rare condition Morquio Syndrome, but both responded well during trials of the drug Vimizin.
“However, the manufacturer Biomarin has withdrawn the drug from the two girls while the HSE has denied a number of applications for reimbursement of its cost.
“This drug is the only enzyme replacement therapy designed to target the underlying cause of this disease. I have been working with the families of the two girls and facilitated meetings with Minister Harris. Now, it is up to the HSE Drugs Group, which up to now has rejected their plea for the cost of the drug.
“The drug manufacturer needs to continue to allow these children to have access to Vimizin, as the data from their use has been used to prove the effectiveness of this drug.
“I met Minister Harris twice last week on this issue. I am actively engaging with the Minister to get him to compassionately intervene to encourage the HSE and the drug company Biomarin and find a way to provide the drug Vimizin to the two little girls who depend on it.
“I believe it is not beyond the capacity of our health service and the drug manufacturer to come to some arrangement whereby the girls can continue to avail of this life-changing drug. I repeat my call to them to meet again and come to a compassionate solution.”
Today’s statement by the British Secretary of State Karen Bradley represents another failure by her government to uphold its responsibilities to citizens and to implement past agreements, Sinn Féin Vice President Michelle O’Neill has said.
“In today’s statement, the British Secretary of State outlined her government’s belief that last week’s draft agreement provided the basis for a return to the power sharing institutions.
“However, she singularly failed to progress those issues which the British Government is directly responsible for.
“They must release the legacy inquest funding immediately and issue the consultation on the legacy mechanisms.
“The fact that the DUP failed to close on last week’s draft agreement and chose to collapse the process does not abdicate the British Government from their responsibilities.
“That is something I will be making abundantly clear to the British Prime Minister when I meet her in London tomorrow.
“The Good Friday Agreement provides for a British Irish Intergovernmental Conference to reflect the co-equal and co-guarantor status of the two governments.
“The two governments must initiate this conference as a matter of urgency and move to implement previous agreements.
“These include an Irish Language Act, the release of funds for legacy inquests and progress the legacy mechanisms, as well as safeguarding the rights of citizens including the right to marriage equality.”
Sinn Féin Senator and member of the Oireachtas Good Friday Agreement Committee, Niall Ó Donnghaile, has welcomed the decision taken by the committee to travel to Belfast for two days to meet with a range of Irish language, legacy & victims groups as well as community development groups and Irish Medium schools.
Seanadóir Ó Donnghaile said;
“I wish to warmly welcome my Oireachtas colleagues to Belfast for the opportunity to engage with groups from across all communities of the North.
“We will meet groups to discuss the ongoing issues around the introduction of an Irish language Act, as well as the calls for legislations protection and recognition for Irish speakers as well as hearing their experiences of life as Irish speakers in the Six Counties.
“Sinn Féin want to see an Acht Na Gaeilge implemented after being previously agreed at St. Andrew’s, which will afford Gaeilgeoirí in the North the same rights available across the rest of the island.
“We have also been clear in our support for rights for all citizens, and I hope this trip give committee members first hand insight into the issues facing citizens in the North on a daily basis.
“Sinn Féin want to see issues of legacy and the past addressed and we need to see the full implementation of the mechanisms agreed at the Stormont House talks, including setting up the HIU.
“The Good Friday Agreement must be protected in all of its parts, and we have been very clear on the need for the British and Irish Government to engage the Intergovernmental Conference as co-guarantors of The Good Friday Agreement.
“The two governments must initiate this conference as a matter of urgency and move to implement previous agreements. These include an Irish Language Act, the release of funds for legacy inquests and progress the legacy mechanisms, as well as safeguarding the rights of citizens including the right to marriage equality.”
Tuesday 20 February
10.30 – 12.00 Visit to WAVE Trauma Centre
12.30 – 14.00 Meeting with Joint Secretary, British Irish Intergovernmental Secretariat
14.30 – 15.30 Visit to Belfast Gaeltacht Quarter and meetings with representative groups including:
Forbairt Feirste - Business and community development agency based in Belfast’s Gaeltacht Quarter
Fáilte Feirste Thiar – Promoting tourism in West Belfast
16.00 – 17.00 Meeting with representatives from Cooperation Ireland LEGASI Programme
Wednesday 21 February
9:00 – 9:30
Meeting Coiste na nIarchimí
9:30 – 11:30
Roundtable discussion with representatives of Irish language groups including:
Conradh na Gaeilge
An Dream Dearg - Campaigning organisation established by grassroots following the cutting of the Líofa funding in 2016
Glór na Móna - Organisation delivering youth services through the medium of Irish in the Upper Springfield area of West Belfast
Turas - Group based in East Belfast promoting Irish language within the PUL community
Ultach Trust - ULTACH is an independent charitable trust based in Belfast. Their principal aim is to promote the Irish language throughout the entire community
12.30 – 13.30 Lunch discussion with Féile an Phobail - Ireland’s largest community arts festival which uses the Irish language as a central plank to promote the arts & culture
14.00 – 15.15 Visit to and tour of Coláiste Feirste - Largest post-primary Irish medium education school based in Belfast, followed by
Meeting with Laochra Loch Lao CLG - Belfast Gaeltacht Quarter GAA team which offers underage and senior level football to boys and girls and men and women.
15.30 – 17.00 Meeting with Relatives for Justice
17.00 Return to Dublin
The denial of marriage equality in the North of Ireland is unsustainable, Sinn Féin MLA Megan Fearon has said.
The party’s Equality spokesperson was commenting after strong signals that an end to the ban on same-sex marriage may be legislated for in Westminster if the DUP continue to block its introduction here.
“The North of Ireland is the only place in these islands, the only place in western Europe, that denies the right to marriage equality,” she commented.
“That is a shameful situation and it is becoming increasingly unsustainable tor the DUP to defend, particularly as a majority of the Assembly and the wider public clearly support the introduction of marriage equality.
“Sinn Féin’s objective in the recent negotiations was to secure a pathway to the introduction of marriage equality. We would much prefer that it was done by local power-sharing institutions which are genuinely committed to a rights-based society.
“However, we are not yet at that stage due to the DUP’s decision to collapse the talks and abandon the agreement to restore the institutions.
“In that context, there is a responsibility on both governments, under the terms of the Good Friday Agreement, to uphold equality of treatment for citizens here.
“Therefore, I welcome today’s confirmation from the British Secretary of state that her government will allow a free vote on any proposal in Westminster to legislate for marriage equality here. I also welcome the fact that the Labour Party have now confirmed that they would be prepared to bring forward such a proposal.”
Sinn Féin spokesperson on Business, Enterprise and Innovation Maurice Quinlivan TD, today moved a motion in the Dáil which will see the Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill 2017 proceed to Committee Stage where it can be scrutinised and debated.
Speaking today the Limerick City TD said;
“I am delighted that I was able to move a motion in the Dáil today which will see the Sale of Tickets (Sporting and Cultural Events) Bill 2017 move to Committee Stage.
“Last May, Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil voted to delay my anti-ticket touting legislation by nine months, but I am delighted this time has now elapsed and this legislation has moved out of this unnecessary limbo.
“There was absolutely no reason for this delay, no additional scrutiny of the Bill has occurred since then, nor has the government done anything themselves to address the problem. The only thing that has happened is consumers have continued to get ripped off.
“I stressed this point at the time, but internal party politics in Fine Gael and Fianna Fáil were at play, and so this trumped consumer interests.
“Moving ahead, I am looking forward to debating this issue at Committee, scrutinising the Bill, hearing from stakeholders from both sides, and working constructively with other Deputies should they have any amendments.
“Recently consumers buying tickets for Britney Spears and U2 concerts again fell victim to ticket touts, as official tickets sold out in minutes, but appeared seconds later on secondary selling sites for multiples of their face value.
“My Bill, will cap the resale of tickets at 10% above their face value, stopping this abuse of the market, whilst at the same time ensuring fans can sell on their tickets if they can no longer attend a concert or match.
“People who breach this would be liable, on summary conviction, to a fine not exceeding €5,000.
“Other deputies have cited the need for regulation and also introduced their own Bills on the topic, however this Bill is the most advanced one in the legislative process and so I’d expect all parties who want to tackle this problem to row in behind this Bill to solve this problem to the benefit of all consumers."
Sinn Féin MEP Martina Anderson has said the British government's Brexit secretary David Davis is delusional in his vision of Brexit.
Martina Anderson said:
"The comments from the British government's Brexit secretary David Davis that Brexit will not lead to society descending to some sort of Mad Max scenario borrowed from dystopian fiction just shows how low he is setting the bar.
"The reality is that everyone knows that Brexit will have a hugely negative impact on our economy, our rights and every aspect of society.
"Successive reports, including leaked figures from the British government's own report, show that the north of Ireland will be hardest hit by Brexit.
"So these remarks will do little to allay the genuine fears and concerns from people right across society about the Tory Brexit agenda.
"David Davis went even further with his delusions when he said he wanted to see Britain lead the way in terms of rights when in fact that we know the Tories have a poor record of rights, particularly when it comes to people in the north of Ireland, by the way in which they have tried to dismiss the importance and relevance of the Good Friday Agreement.
"In fact, he was supposed to be in Brussels on Monday to discuss Brexit and Ireland but did not show up so that is an indication of his government's approach to the north of Ireland.
"The best way to safeguard our rights, ensure the protection of the Good Friday Agreement and avoid the bleak future Brexit offers is to secure special status for the north within the EU."
Sinn Féin TD, Kathleen Funchion, today calls on the Government to take action urgently and immediately to address the staffing issues in the youth mental health sector.
Teachta Funchion said:
“Ireland has the one of the highest youth suicide rates in Europe. Our Government needs to take action now to address the staffing issues and to make services available to children and young people as soon as they require them.
“I was shocked to learn that Child and Adolescent Mental Health Services in CHO5 (South Tipperary, Carlow/Kilkenny, Waterford and Wexford) currently have just 46.1% per cent of the number of nurses and doctors recommended by the Government’s “Vision for Change” strategy, 2006.
“The strategy was drawn up by an expert group tasked with modernising our mental health services. In comparison with this strategy, which is now 12 years old, the current Government have achieved a national average of 56.1% of the recommended staff. This really is a disgrace.
“The Children’s Rights Alliance revealed that nearly 7,000 children under the age of 17 were waiting for a community-based psychology appointment at the end of last July — with one third of those waiting for more than a year. Our children and young people deserve immediate access to the help they need to deal with mental health challenges.
“The Government is struggling to fill hundreds of positions nationwide and psychiatric nurses across the country are taking industrial action because of the overcrowding and under-staffing they face on a daily basis.
"Staff do their best for their patients but the conditions they face in work every day are demoralising for them and for the patients and the situation is unacceptable.
“The pressures on the system are only increasing and it is very worrying that waiting lists for initial appointments are climbing higher and higher with huge regional variations.
"Our children and young people cannot be waiting for up to 2 years for an initial appointment for mental health services and then waiting another year or so for follow on appointments.
“The complexities and difficulties faced with young people who suffer with their mental health are extremely well highlighted, yet our youth mental health services are running at barely over half the number of staff which was recommended 12 years ago and it is impossible to get the help they need.
“Timely support and treatment for mental health challenges is so critical to prevent further deterioration, with possibly tragic results.
“These delays are having unnecessary repercussions to young people’s well-being, development and lives and the Government needs to take immediate action to meet increased demands on these services which were not fit for purpose 12 years ago and definitely are not fit for purpose now.”
The Housing Executive’s decision to replace its Carillion contracts with another multi-national company is a missed opportunity, Sinn Féin MLA Carál Ní Chuilín has said.
The party’s Housing spokesperson was commenting after it was confirmed that Housing Executive maintenance and heating services contracts would switch to French company Engie following the collapse of Carllion.
“Sinn Fein supported the call for an expansion of public sector jobs to carry out maintenance on public sector housing because we wanted to see sustainable work for local people with decent terms and conditions.
“However, the Housing Executive, following a recommendation by Price Waterhouse
Coopers, has opted to transfer Carillion’s contracts to Engie, another global
“In doing so, the Housing Executive is replicating the risks associated with Carillion. Rather than outsourcing the maintenance of its housing stock, the Housing Executive should bring it back in-house by expanding its direct labour force.”
Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Pat Sheehan has welcomed the installation of an innovative 3D Heart Scanner in the Ulster Hospital, the first of its kind in the North.
The cutting-edge technology will make the Ulster Hospital the first in the world to have a dedicated CT scanner installed to specifically detect heart disease.
The West Belfast MLA said: "It is great to see this innovative technology being applied in the health service in the north
"The speed at which the machine allows physicians to diagnose patients is remarkable and a welcome addition to cardiology services here.
"It will also play a very important preventive role in that it can detect symptoms that in future years would likely lead to serious heart problems.
"Instead, where the scanner detects such symptoms patients will be able to be treated and avoid their condition worsening."The scanner which was developed by a Dublin-based company and applied in the Ulster Hospital is a good example of all-Ireland development and application of innovative health solutions."