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Community and voluntary sector must not be used or abused

24 October, 2006

Sinn Féin health spokesperson John O'Dowd has said that while he welcomes today's statement from direct-rule minister Paul Goggins that the role of the community and voluntary sector will be strengthened as health and social service reforms take effect, he said it is important that the role is clearly defined.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"Without any doubt, the community and voluntary sector has played a valuable role in delivering valuable and excellent services to communities across the North. However, it must be recognised that this was often as a response to bridge those gaps in services which the department was failing to address.

"It is only right that the community and sector has a role to play in delivering health services into local communities.

"However, the department must not be permitted to view this as a means to delivering services at a lower cost, or having such services paid for through the ability of the community and voluntary sector to access European and other funding, thus essentially saving the department money.

"Certainly, I believe that when it comes to the planning and coordination of services, the voluntary and community sector, working alongside staff-side health service representatives, should have a central role to play in developing a modern patient- and user- centred service fit for the 21st century." ENDS

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