Sinn Féin - On Your Side

All Ireland health service needed urgently

5 March, 2005


Sinn Féin Cllr John O'Dowd MLA speaking to motion 204 - CAWT & all Ireland Health service said "There are too many problems across our health services and too many benefits which can accrue from creating economies of scale, increasing capacity, supporting the development of regional centres, increasing access to services and deepening the available pool of expertise. It would be criminal for anyone to stand in the way of an all-Ireland Health service."

John O'Dowd said:

The provision of health care should not be confined by partition. Sinn Féin is committed to a health service that is governed by effectiveness and accessibility, not an arbitrary border.

Sinn Féin know that many people, including many within the health services and those who require access to services - are coming to an understanding and appreciation of our analysis that Ireland is too small a country to support two separate health service systems; that there is clearly a need to harmonise provision and delivery of health services across the whole of Ireland.

While we acknowledge and congratulate the work of CAWT, the cross border body between health boards, it is our view that effective strategic planning by both health departments will only reach its optimum through a single focused outlook about how health care can be developed on this island as a whole.

Sinn Féin recognises the benefits that would flow from the establishment of a high level joint working group of the Department of Health in the 6 counties and the Department of Health and Children in the 26. The functions of that group should be to establish mainstreamed Health Networks that straddle the 32 counties of Ireland and in particular the border where the contradictions of a partitioned Health service are most blatant.

The joint working group should also establish a single registration and licensing process for all medical professionals on this island so staff can work where they are needed, and patients can be treated without a further delay because of complications around administrative red tape causing staff shortages.

Recently my colleague Caoimhgin O Caoláin TD asked the Tánaiste and Minister for Health and Children if her attention had been drawn to the fact that the Chief Executive of the Chest Heart and Stroke Association, had called for an all-Ireland solution to the shortage of children's cardiac surgeons; and if intended to contact her northern counterpart, Direct rule Minister Angela Smith with a view to establishing a joint feasibility study into the viability of such a service.

The Tánaiste was dismissive of the opportunity to improve access for children on this island to heart surgery, instead she passed the buck.

I am sorry Tánaiste, the buck stops with you and if you are serious about improving Health Care in the 26 you are going to have to think 32, as painful as that may be for someone with your advanced partitionist condition.

Other matters such as the promised rollout of breast screening, now delayed until 2007, will literally cost Irish women their lives would be expedited by all island cooperation; cervical smears, cancer treatment, renal dialysis and access to GPs, dentists and the community nurse, all should be examined on an all Ireland basis and not face delay because of a partitionist mindset.

There are too many problems across our health services and too many benefits which can accrue from creating economies of scale, increasing capacity, supporting the development of regional centres, increasing access to services and deepening the available pool of expertise. It would be criminal for anyone to stand in the way of an all-Ireland Health service.

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