Sinn Fein's O'Neill slams civil servants over cuts to Northern Ireland health service
Sinn Fein Stormont leader Michelle O'Neill has launched a stinging attack on civil servants at the Department of Health, accusing them of "playing politics with people's health".
Writing exclusively in today's Belfast Telegraph, the former Health Minister also accuses officials of "contradicting" the health policy agenda she introduced in 2016 during her time at the helm.
- Michelle O'Neill: Civil servants playing politics with lives of vulnerable people and that's totally unacceptable
"On the 25th of October last I launched my plan for transforming Health and Social Care, 'Health and Wellbeing 2026: Delivering Together'," she writes.
"Central to 'Delivering Together' was the recognition that achieving real transformation required change to be designed in partnership with those who use and those who deliver health and social care services.
"The proposed cuts fundamentally contradict the transformation agenda. They will affect some of the most vulnerable people in our society such as older people, carers, those languishing on waiting lists, and many more.
"Anyone who understands our health service knows that these cuts will undermine transformation and lead to further crisis within an already overstretched system."
Calling for the return of power-sharing at Stormont, the Mid Ulster Assembly Member said her party wanted a "functioning, sustainable Executive, one that delivers first class public services, one that looks after all of the people on an equal basis".
"Only a locally-based Executive, with local ministers, can mitigate against the worst impact of austerity and ultimately deliver the transformation of health and social care which we desperately need." And she assured the public that Sinn Fein representatives would "hold the Department (of Health) to account on any budgetary related plans and proposals - and oppose any measures which are deemed unnecessary or an attack on the vulnerable."
The Department of Health last night declined to comment.