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Political will required to unleash potential of Cross Border Health Care

25 July, 2006


Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson John O'Dowd speaking after a 12 strong party delegation of Assembly members met with the cross border health organisation Co-operation And Working Together (CAWT) in Stormont today has said that political will from both the Irish and British governments is required to unleash the full potential of not just in the provision of health care services on a cross border basis but also training and education.

Speaking after the meeting Mr O'Dowd said:

"The potential of genuine cross border working, co-operation and partnership to have a huge impact on how services are delivered throughout the cross border area, particularly where there are considerable deficits, cannot be understated.

"From the provision of ENT services possibly opening up in the Erne after a gap of almost 30 years to the importance of developing out-of-hours GP services in South Armagh it is clear that through CAWT that health structures are increasingly working together to provide services.

"What we now need to see is the political will at governmental and local level to truly unleash the potential not just in the provision of health care services on a cross border basis but also training and education.

"CAWT covers an area with 1 million people, many of whom suffer from the problems of peripherality and rurality. Unless there is the commitment to see organisations like CAWT grow and develop then are consigning many of these people to second-class status in terms of access to health care. That is not acceptable.

"Sinn Fein has already called for a Rural Health Taskforce. We believe that there must now be a real focus on how the needs of people living in the border areas and in rural communities are provided to the first class health services to which they are entitled." ENDS

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