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The Health Minister must not devastate frontline nursing services

20 April, 2009 - by Michelle O'Neill

Sinn Féin Mid Ulster MLA and Deputy Chair of the Assembly Health Committee, Michele O'Neill has warned the Health Minister, Michael McGimpsey that the loss of 700 nursing staff will devastate frontline health care.   Speaking today Ms O Neill said:   "It clear that the loss of 700 nurses will devastate frontline services and Sinn Féin will fight any attempt to cut these vital jobs.   "Sinn Féin recognise that there are financial pressures on all Departments including Health but the way forward is not to cut frontline services such as nursing jobs, home help services and the ambulance services.   "These are jobs that are essential to the function of a full and effective health service without which patient care will inevitably suffer. I think if you talk to any nurse they will very clearly tell you that both themselves and their colleagues are stretched. To loose 700 nurses is wholly unacceptable.   "Michael McGimpsey as Minister for Health must be more creative and innovative in making efficiency savings. If we look at what the Minister has claimed he will save in bringing the health boards together the figure stands at  £53 million per year.   “On top of this the Health department is the best funded and under each quarterly monitoring round Health is guaranteed at least £5 million of government funding. Clearly an amount of this money must be ring fenced for frontline services that are already under severe pressure.   “The Health Minister must stop hiding behind so called efficiency savings and protect our nursing staff not decimate them.”

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