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Sinn Féin voice concern at access to Belfast Out of Hours services

4 October, 2004

Sinn Féin politicians representing South, West and North Belfast have voiced serious concerns at the siting of Out of Hours services in Belfast after the Eastern Health and Social Services Board ignored advice on the location of new OOH services.

In a joint statement North Belfast MLA Cathy Stanton, West Belfast MLA Fra McCann South Belfast MLA Alex Maskey said:

"The Eastern Health Board have finalised proposals for their Out of Hours Emergency Medical Services, which will come into effect on the 1st January 2005. We met with EHSSB officials in July and raised serious concerns about

the equality implications of their proposals.

"Sinn Féin were particularly concerned that West Belfast, despite very high levels of health need and lower levels of car ownership, would have no OOH centre. We are pleased that the EHSSB have now given a tacit agreement to place an OOH centre in West Belfast, although its location and level of service have yet to be decided.

"However, Sinn Féin are disappointed that the EHSSB have totally ignored the concerns expressed by our South and North Belfast representatives about the location of OOH services in these parts of Belfast. The failure of the EHSSB to cite OOH Services in centralised locations, which are accessible and acceptable to both communities in South and North Belfast, is a huge mistake.

"Sinn Féin is currently taking advice from Equality experts ascertain if there is a case to answer of the EHSSB failing to meet its section 75 obligations, as we believe. It is an unfortunate by-product of British direct rule that many of the Quangos, have slipped back into their old habits of ignoring the views of the locally elected representatives and thinking they are unaccountable. Sinn Fein will continue to pursue this issue and fighting to ensure the needs of the communities we represent in Belfast are taken on board." ENDS

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