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Minister's Health funding claims do not add up, say Sinn Féin

8 December, 2004

Sinn Féin health spokesperson, Cllr John O'Dowd MLA, has said that claims by NIO health minister Angela Smith MP of making additional funding available to the health service do not simply add up.

Cllr O'Dowd said:

"I believe that many of those charged with the delivery of front-line health services will be amazed at the Minister's claims. Over the past number of weeks, I have been engaged in a very comprehensive series of meetings with senior management of various health boards and trusts, professional bodies and trades unions to discuss the government proposed expenditure on health over the next three years. It is very clear that no-one believes that the proposed health funding allocation will be sufficient to meet the requirements to provide a modern and effective health service accessible to everyone.

"All health boards and trusts will be faced with making critical decisions which will impact negatively upon patient care as a result of under-funding which could be as high as £65 million by the end of 2005/06 and amount to over £250 million of a short-fall over the next three years.

"Indeed, I am aware that a number of trusts are already engaged in drawing up contingency plans in order to deal with this short-fall in funding. Services, such as mental health, domiciliary care, child-care, prescription of cancer treatment drugs for patients, etc, are all liable to face major cutbacks. Furthermore, new health service developments and provision could well be put on hold.

"It is obvious that Angela Smith and her colleagues have failed abysmally to secure proper and adequate funding needed to resource the North's health service within the proposed budget. That was made clear by none other than the government's Chief Medical Officer in the North, Dr Henrietta Campbell, speaking at the General Medical Council's annual conference on November 9th. Dr Campbell warned then that the health service in the North was facing a bleak future in which there would be 'a famine of resources'.

"Angela Smith must publicly explain this difference which has emerged between her view of future health service funding and that of her Chief Medical Officer." ENDS

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