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O’Neill calls for parties to support transformation and hard-pressed health workers

5 January, 2018 - by Michelle O'Neill

Sinn Féin MLA Michelle O’Neill called today on political parties in the north to support hard-pressed health workers and stay focused on the continued transformation of the health service instead of using the current political impasse to score political points.

Michelle O’Neill said: 

“The current crisis in the health service did not arrive over the winter, the crisis in our health services arises out of two major factors. 

“The first is the impact of the British government’s financial cuts to our public services over many years plus the long overdue need to transform how we deliver services.

“The current waiting lists, the inability to meet demand, the crisis in our Emergency Departments is totally unacceptable. Our system is broken and needs urgent attention to meet the growing need.

“I knew from my time as health minister, from when I went in through the door of the health department that we had a service that was on its knees. A service that was stretched to the limit and a service that needed radical reform which included changing how we deliver care, where we focus resources/investments and how we build on what was done well by the excellent staff.

“I set out that much-needed transformation plan, it was called Delivering Together. It set out the blue print for change. For the first time ever I was able to secure political consensus for the plan. All parties need to stay focused on the plan instead of using the current political impasse to score political points.

“Sinn Féin is as committed to that plan today as we were the day I announced it.

“The reality is that there is no alternative, there is no time for other reports, this is the time for action.

“Over the course of the last few days other parties have added to the misery already experienced by those needing the health service. They have added to the pressures already expressed by the staff trying to manage in very difficult situations.

“They have done so, by playing games, by using the health service as a political football. Today I urge all parties to stop playing games with this vital service.

“I encourage all parties to stay committed to the transformation plan, which should continue to be delivered. To focus on restoring devolution and to ensuring we have a strong sustainable government that can tackle the root causes of the difficulties being faced in our public services, that can fight back against austerity.

“Sinn Féin want to restore our Executive and our Assembly, an Executive which enjoys public confidence and one which delivers rights and public services for all our  people.

“We can all engage in a circular blame game but that does nothing to help our health workers or to get the political institutions back in place. 

“So I'm appealing to all parties to support the continued transformation of our health service. And I am making a direct appeal to the DUP to end the blockade of basic rights and allow us all to get back to the essential work of government.” 

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