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Failure to release additional health funding is totally unacceptable

9 January, 2007

Sinn Féin health spokesperson, John O'Dowd MLA, has hit out at the failure of direct rule minister, Paul Goggins, to release additional funding to the health service in order to deal with extra emergency admission pressures during the winter months.

O'Dowd said,

"Towards the end of last year, I had asked the direct-rule minister to furnish me with the details and, indeed, the amount, in terms of financial resources which he would be allocating to the health service in order to deal with the added winter pressures which the health service comes under at this time of the year.

"Most people will be only too well aware of the added pressures placed on the health service during the winter months, particularly as there is a higher demand for emergency admissions during this period due to the higher prevalence of respiratory and circulatory conditions.

"The response which I received today from the minister, Paul Goggins, is quite simply and totally unacceptable. The direct-rule minister stated that there are no plans to make any additional resource allocations in order to address increased demands on the health service during the winter months. This is clearly a case of the health minister failing to recognise the reality of the pressures on the health service.

"One has only to look at the deplorable situation which occurred over the recent holiday period when more than 100 people were left on trolleys in the eastern and northern health board areas, a situation which Dr Brian Patterson, chairman of the BMA, publicly described as 'obscene'."

Mr O'Dowd continued, "It is seriously worrying that the health service cannot cope with these seasonal surges in demand through lack of beds, and insufficient numbers of doctors and nurses.

"It is important that additional funding is made available to deal with these issues. It is also essential that increased funding for community support services such as home helps and home or residential care packages are in place in order to accommodate the discharge of patients from hospital." ENDS

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