Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Sinn Féin responds to Capitation Review

1 December, 2004

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson, Upper Bann Cllr John O'Dowd MLA has said that the capitation formulae used to allocate funding to the health boards is 'becoming a rationing book for scarce resources rather than a mechanism for enhancing health care'.

The current budget proposals places a future Executive in the untenable position of imposing health cuts without effective revenue raising powers. Direct Rule Ministers have clearly failed to obtain the resources necessary to support our society and the political delivery of a peace dividend.

Sinn Féin has submitted its formal response to the British Government consultation on the manner in which its distributes funding to the four Health boards across the Six Counties.

Cllr John O'Dowd MLA said today:

"There is major concern in many quarters that the health service in the North is not receiving the necessary resources needed to provide an effective and adequate service for all. We are mindful that the health service has been drained of resources over the past twenty years. This has led to the Capitation Formula becoming a rationing book for scarce resources rather than a mechanism for enhancing health care. There is clearly a need for additional resources for health to tackle the legacy of under investment and to develop high quality, effective and accessible services.

"The report of the Capitation Review Group should have reflected the need for greater investment in order to develop a quality service. Currently, it is estimated that the Health Service in the Six Counties would need to receive at least an additional £250 million during the period 2005 - 2008 in order to receive the same uplift which the British Government is giving the health service in England.

"Objectives set out in Investing for Health are being ignored and the Department appears to be attempting to move away from the Investing for Health Programme. It is essential that a cross-Departmental approach be taken to resourcing a programme of major and long-term health change. There are clearly unfinished policy commitments still due to be delivered since the suspension of the Assembly and there must be a rapid progress to resolve outstanding issues from Developing Better Services and the future of NHS structures.

"In particular, those issues relate to the overdue modernisation and resourcing to our healthcare systems which fundamentally fail to meet needs and promote outcomes at even average European health status levels."

Note to Editors

Key conclusions contained in the Sinn Féin document have identified the following:

· There is a need for the Capitation Formulae to reflect the development of greater all-Ireland co-operation and working.

· There is a need for greater investment in the Health Services in order for the Capitation Formulae to be effective and not away of rationing an unrealistic budget.

· There is a need to reduce the potential for conflicts of interest between Review Group membership and roles within Health Boards. Further to this is the need to include service users and Trade Unions on the group.

· That the recommendations of the Capitation Review are temporary pending the outworking of the ongoing Review of Public Administration.

· There is a need for an additional fund to redress inequalities in Health

· There is a need for the Capitation Formulae to incorporate fully Targeting Social Need by placing a greater emphasis on social disadvantage.

· There is a need for Boards to apply the amended Capitation Formulae at local levels.

· Sinn Féin believes that a process to identify inequalities of access to services and health outcomes should be an integral component of the Capitation Review.

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