Ritchie warns of health care crisis for the North

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Friday, November 15th, 2013
SDLP MP Margaret Ritchie has warned of a looming crisis for the North’s health care system which she says has been attacked and under resourced for many years. Speaking at the annual SDLP party conference in Armagh at the weekend, the South Down MP said, “There is widespread frustration and belief that the central policy of the Department of Health is cuts, a reduction in services and then, when they have exhausted that round of cuts, another review of services takes place to implement more cuts. “Witness the creeping privatisation of our health service through ‘Transforming Your Care’ document. On the ground we see a continual ebbing away of regional and local health services. “This comes from the bottom up, with many people unable to access their GP within an acceptable time frame; cuts to A&E and out of hour’s services, and trolley waits and bed blocking becoming normal practice in our hospitals. “All of these problems are the result of a lack of funding and proper resource management. As we all know when it comes to the professionalism and expertise of staff within the Health Service we are not lacking, but those same staff are being placed in a situation whereby they cannot deliver the services they are trained to provide to the community. “Children’s Cardiac services, care homes for our older generation – the basic building blocks of society, looking after our young and our older generations have been attacked. The ‘one size fits all’ approach would appear to be the mantra of the Department of Health,” she insisted. “Nowhere in their policies do we see recognition of the rural nature of Northern Ireland; of the impact this can have on travel times to access emergency medical attention or indeed on the reality of an elderly person in a rural area being left in their isolated home only to receive just over 1 hour of care per day in 20 minute slots. Ritchie added, “We need to be looking at other models, where dispersed populations, like we have in Northern Ireland, are catered for under health reviews, not penalised and given the one size fits all treatment.”
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