Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Woodward Health plans riddled with inconsistencies

9 February, 2006

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson, John O'Dowd MLA has ridiculed British direct rule Health Minister Shaun Woodward's plans for the reform of the Health service as 'riddled with inconsistencies'.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"There is no argument about the need for a radical shake up in the organisation and management of our health services. Sinn Féin have been flagging this up for years, as did Bairbre de Brún when she was the Minster for Health.

"Sinn Féin have articulated the need for a single Strategic Health Authority and I welcome the fact that Mr Woodward accepts the logic for this. However, the approach to the 5 health trusts and 7 local commissioning groups is riddled with inconsistencies.

"The purchaser provider split reintroduces the internal market by the back door and opens up the door for the increased privatisation of the health services. It is a retrograde step that will re-create expensive levels of bureaucracy and bring in additional costs that we should be trying to remove.

"What is also required is a clear fit between the new council areas and the new health trusts to allow for the maximum of democratic accountability over how services are configured and delivered. Sinn Fein believe that there should be 7 local rusts co-terminus with the new council boundaries.

"Mr Woodward is also being disingenuous in claiming that million will be released for frontline services and drugs. The truth is that major transition does not come on the cheap. If the change is to be both effective and efficient then it is essential that it is budgeted for and not seen as an opportunity to do things on the cheap.

"The Needs and Effectiveness Evaluation published when Bairbre de Brún was health minister showed that removing layers of management would release only a small fraction of the funds required to bring our services up to the required level. Indeed the same report and the former permanent secretary of the health department have pointed to the fact that to bring expenditure up to an adequate baseline would require an additional £100 million." ENDS

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