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All-Ireland co-operation in health services must be stepped up

19 April, 2004

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson Caoimhghín Ó Caoláin TD has expressed concern that changes in health service structures and the current difficulties in the peace process are preventing the further development of all-Ireland co-operation in health service delivery. Deputy Ó Caoláin was speaking during a tour of Co. Donegal with Sinn Féin EU candidate in the North West constituency, Pearse Doherty.

Deputy Ó Caoláin said:

"The Minister for Health and Children has now published the Health Amendment Bill 2004 which removes elected representatives from health boards and vests all powers and responsibilities in the hands of health board CEOs. The boards themselves are to be abolished and replaced by the Health Services Executive.

"I am very concerned at the loss of democratic accountability and at the implications for all-Ireland co-operation in health which was delivered

primarily through the health boards. The Co-Operation and Working Together programme involves the North Western Health Board, the North Eastern Health Board and health authorities in the Six Counties. Equally of concern is the current crisis in the peace process which affects the potential for further co-operation.

"I am calling on the Minister for Health and Children to address this issue in a more focused manner. The people of the Border region in particular have much to gain by the pooling of resources and the integration of facilities. We need to see further development, not backsliding, in the interests of all health service users in Ireland."ENDS

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