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Sinn Féin concerned over inadequate levels of Health Service funding

16 November, 2004

Speaking after he had met with senior health service managers today, Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Cllr John O' Dowd MLA, has expressed his concern that the proposed draft priorities and budget for 2005 - 2008 published by the British government will lead to a deterioration in the level of health service provision available in the North.

Cllr O‚Dowd said,

"Earlier today I met with representatives of the Confederation of Health and Social Services, the body which includes representatives of all health boards and trusts across the Six Counties. Those representatives expressed their fears that the current draft budget proposals will not in fact lead to an improvement of provision but, due to new government policies and directives, to a situation where there will actually be a service deficit which could amount to many millions of pounds.

"In that scenario, services such as domiciliary care for the elderly, care in the community provision, mental health provision and others could be seriously curtailed. In such a situation, this will lead to increased demand on the acute sector with even higher waiting lists.

"The British Government in its own draft budget proposals admits that the health service in the North is under tremendous pressure, and that the standard of health and well being of the population is not as good as it should be. Mortality rates are higher, there are higher levels of people suffering from heart and respiratory disease, and the survival rate from cancer is particularly poor in comparison to other European countries.

"That being the case, then what is needed is a major injection of additional funding to make up the gap which currently exists between present levels of investment and actual requirements and need. The supposed peace dividend that was promised to the people of the North should be translated into positive and far-reaching investment in health services immediately." ENDS

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