Sinn Féin - On Your Side

Action needed to address hospital waiting lists

1 September, 2005

Sinn Féin health spokesperson, John O'Dowd MLA, has said that the latest waiting list figures demonstrate the need for the NIO health minister to initiate positive actions, including the release of targeted funding, to ensure that people here have access to effective medical treatment when they need it.

Mr O'Dowd said:

"The reality of these latest figures is that there has been no marked improvement in the numbers of patients awaiting treatment. Rather than seeking to use these figures, along with the publication of the Appleby Report, as an excuse for trying to introduce a two-tier health service in the North through greater dependence on the private sector, Shaun Woodward should take the opportunity to release additional and targeted funding into specific areas of the health service. Such targeted funding is required if people are to have access to proper and effective medical treatment at the earliest opportunity.

"Targeted funding should, amongst other things, be aimed at recruiting the staff necessary to fill the widespread consultant vacancies which currently exist across all medical specialities.

"The British Government must recognise that the health service in the North is under tremendous pressure, and that the standard of health and well being of the population is not as good as it should be. Mortality rates are higher, there are higher levels of people suffering from heart and respiratory disease, and the survival rate from cancer is particularly poor in comparison to other European countries.

"That being the case, what is needed is a major injection of additional funding to make up the gap which currently exists between present levels of investment and actual requirements and need. The supposed peace dividend that was promised to the people of the North should be translated into positive and far-reaching investment in health services immediately." ENDS

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