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Making Health Department exempt from efficiency savings will not ease health strains.

9 November, 2009 - by Michelle O'Neill

Sinn Féin MLA and deputy chair of the Health Committee in the Assembly, Michelle O’Neill has stated that confronting strains on the health budget will be met by targeting inefficiencies that are away from frontline services and opening up an all Ireland health system, not by making the Health department exempt from efficiency savings.

Speaking following an ammendment being forwarded for todays Sinn Féin motion which calls for the health department to be excempt from the effeciency savings Sinn Féin spokesperson on Health, Michelle O’Neill MLA said:

“The amendment assumes that there can never be any efficiency savings made within the health service which is clearly misleading, all Executive departments are duty bound to ensure services are delivered in an efficient manner.

“Efficiency means more resources are made available for services to the public including frontline health services.

“Sinn Féin acknowledges that health does have financial pressures, we supported in our response to the Executive Budget a call for more resources being made available to health, when available.

“To exempt health from efficiency measures means other departments have to re-double their efforts which in fact means a cut to public services elsewhere.

“Are the sponsors of the amendment suggesting the way to promote good health is to cut back for example  on education, cut new housing, cut back on investment in community projects and road safety and public transport.

“All these services promote good health and inclusion which in turn lessens the demand on the Health service, if we follow the logic of the argument that health is about simply treating the ill then we as a society will never reverse the high levels of ill health

“The Investing for Health Strategy introduced by former health Minister Bairbre de Brún was a realistic proposal to tackle ill health by confronting poverty, poor housing, social exclusions and unemployment. All these are factors that lead to ill health and until they are tackled the Health Service will continually be under pressure.

 Concluding Mrs O’ Neil said;

“The greatest efficiency saving which could be made is the ending of the running two health services back to back on Island of six million people. The border is a barrier to a truly efficient health service.

“Sinn Féin’s position is clear. We support frontline services and the Investing for Health Strategy. Efficiency savings can be made in a way which protects the health service and frontline jobs.

“The Minister must live up to his promise to protect frontline services and examine what exactly he spends his money on. “

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