Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Goggins health speech does not signal any shift in British thinking

26 June, 2006

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson John O'Dowd MLA has said that British NIO Health Minister, Paul Goggins, must not be permitted to use the need for ongoing reform and modernisation within the health service as a means to accelerate the privatisation of the service through the backdoor.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"It is clear that the British government is working to an agenda which will permit the private sector to play an increasingly growing role in the delivery of services.

"Indeed, this core agenda of competition, marketisation and privatisation that will not help public services, was clearly signalled by the previous health minister Shaun Woodward. Paul Goggins' speech today has not marked any shift in British thinking away from that agenda.

"The attempt by the British government to create a market-based NHS will mean more PFI hospitals, companies running GP practices and private clinics providing minor NHS treatment such as cataract surgery. Yet it is these policies that are destabilising the health service and undermining services.

"If Paul Goggins is serious about delivering health services which are responsive to the needs of the public, and which will put a much needed focus upon primary and community care, then he must set out clearly the manner in which this is to be achieved.

"It has always been Sinn Féin's view that resources need to be skewed towards the provision of primary care services. Such an approach should include the creation of adequately resourced partnerships of communities, health workers and service providers providing local solutions to local problems within the context of a comprehensive Health Action Plan with agreed priorities and targets.

"However, this approach appears to be absent from the British government's position as does any reference to the Investing for Health strategy which has been continuously downgraded under the direct-rule administration." ENDS

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