Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Health Services - Breaking down the barriers

11 May, 2006

Sinn Féin all-Ireland spokesperson West Tyrone MLA Barry McElduff speaking ahead of a high level meeting between Senior Officials of both Health Departments, North and South, aimed at putting in place 'real, meaningful North/South Cooperation in the area of GP Out of Hours Services' has said that the border and the existence of two separate Health Departments in Ireland is acting as a major barrier to proper GP access in border areas.

The meeting will take place tomorrow, Friday 12th May, at the Hillgrove Hotel in Monaghan involving Mr Fergal Goodman, Principal Primary Care Officer, Department of Health and Children (Twenty-Six Counties) and Ms Christine Jendoubi, Director of Primary Care, Department of Health (Six Counties) and Sinn Féin Health Spokespersons, Caoimhghín O Caoláin TD and John O'Dowd MLA, Newry Armagh MP Conor Murphy, Barry McElduff MLA and Donegal County Councillor Tony McDaid.

Speaking ahead of the meeting Mr McElduff said:

"Sinn Féin have been liasing closely with both Fergal Goodman and Christine Jendoubi to establish the seamless provision of Primary Care Services across the border. At least 65,000 people living close to the border actually live closer to GP Out of Hours Services provided 'in the other jurisdiction'. Progress in breaking down the barriers to accessing GP Out of Hours Services would have a huge impact.

"Sinn Féin is pushing for an integrated all-Ireland approach to health care provision. Nowhere is the folly of two separate Health systems in the same small country more apparent than in the experience of people living in border areas who have to travel the longer distance to be treated by a doctor if they fall sick in the evenings or at weekends. Health is an Area of Cooperation under the Good Friday Agreement and everybody accepts that a single-island approach is the patient's solution.

"However, it is clear that there is opposition somewhere within the health establishment on this issue and the Monaghan meeting is aimed at removing any hurdles to proper GP access in border areas. I am calling for greater joint working between the two Health Departments and Sinn Féin will be following up Friday's meeting with direct lobbying of the two Health Ministers, Mary Harney and Paul Goggins.

"People living in the Lifford-Strabane area, the Keady-Castleblaney area, the Derry-Buncrana area and the Fermanagh-Leitrim border deserve the best in terms of essential health care. Yet, both the border and Departmental red tape are standing in the way of this entitlement. " ENDS

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