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Funding shortfall key to low NHS standards

25 November, 2004

Sinn Féin Health Spokesperson, Upper Bann MLA John O'Dowd has said that addressing the funding shortfall in the health budget must be a key element in tackling the crisis in our health service.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"It has been known for a considerable time that there is a massive shortfall in the budget in comparison to England, Scotland and Wales. Figures from the previous Executive put the figure at some £190 million per year. This means that year on year services will deteriorate.

"We are also now facing a situation in the next budget cycle, where despite a paper increase of 9%, that once account is taken of money to cover the agenda for change, the new contracts for consultants and GPs, as well as inflationary wage pressures and increasing costs for the drugs bill that the net result will be a net reduction of at least £25 million.

"The accumulative impact of under funding has been devastating in terms of maintaining and increasing the numbers of frontline staff, in maintaining medical beds and particularly in supporting community care.

"Everyone admires people working in the health service, but a telephone survey does not resolve the numerous examples of under resourcing in the health service.

"People should not be satisfied with a second class health service.

"If the health budget is going to be short by £63 million over the new few years, then the figures revealed in the auditors report are very worrying.

" The north has a high level of deprivation and needs extra funding to bring it up to a base line that is equal to the funding commitment that the British government has given to England, Scotland and Wales." ENDS

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