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Sinn Féin call for Rural Health Taskforce

26 June, 2006

Sinn Féin Vice President Pat Doherty MP speaking after a party conference on Rural Health in South Derry on Saturday, 24th June, has called for the establishment of a Rural Health Taskforce.

Mr Doherty said:

"It is time for a focused and co-ordinated response to the health needs of people living in rural areas. Centrally driven polices have undermined the long-term sustainability of health services in rural areas, particularly West of the Bann and in Border counties.. An artificial border and the insanity of running two separate health systems back-to-back have compounded these barriers.

"Rural Health requires an approach that moves far beyond the re-arranging of the deckchairs. A new approach should look at the establishment of a Rural Health Taskforce that brings together community, voluntary, health and political figures with a focus on delivering solutions and looking at models from across Europe where there is a clear recognition that rural health must be addressed in a clear and focused manner.

"We also need to pressure on both the British and particularly the Irish governments, as Health is a specific area of co-operation under the Good Friday Agreement. It is Dublin that is stalling the harmonisation of services that would benefit those communities along the border corridor.

"This will require a shared vision and co-ordination of activities; the development of strategic alliances; lobbying for proper health care as part of Bill of Rights; an assessment of best practice and looking at how other European countries who share common borders deal with access to healthcare." ENDS

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