Sinn Féin - On Your Side

We should have had free personal care for the elderly before now

19 December, 2006

Sinn Féin West Belfast MLA Sue Ramsey speaking during a debate on the introduction of free care for the elderly in the transitional Assembly today has said that given the all party support for it would be unbelievable if this was not now introduced.

Ms Ramsey said:

"Society is judged by the way that we treat our young and old - so how will be judged? During the last Assembly Sinn Féin submitted a motion calling on the Executive to provide the resources for free personal care to be introduced. When Bairbre de Brún introduced free nursing care in 2002 she made it clear that she was keen to also introduce free personal care but that the Executive had still not resolved the financial issues - now with 4 years of direct rule nothing has changed.

"It now seems that everyone supports the introduction of free personal care - those directly affected, healthcare professionals, carers, stakeholders and politicians.

"The introduction of free personal care for all older people is essential. The refusal on the part of central government to provide free personal care has very serious implications. The needs of carers must also be addressed and funding must be made available for appropriate support, including day care provision, respite care and domestic care.

"What has free personal care in Scotland meant - it has provided greater security and dignity to many elderly people; allowed them to be cared for more readily at home; assisted their carers and reduced delayed discharges thereby freeing up NHS resources."

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson, John O'Dowd MLA added that he was confident that if the British government had not brought down the institutions that we would have had the introduction of free personal by now.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"When Bairbre de Brún introduced free nursing carte in 2002 she made it clear that she wanted to introduce free personal care. The only barrier was finding the finances.

"I believe that if the Assembly had been allowed to run its full term that Bairbre de Brún would have also introduced free personal care." ENDS

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