Belfast Telegraph

Sinn Fein looks to develop health service policy in wake of Brexit

Louise O’Reilly TD said that in the context of Brexit, the issue of how health services will be affected is one that keeps coming back.

Sinn Fein is developing policy for a 32-county health service to protect Irish health services affected by Brexit.

Speaking on the second day of the party’s “think-in” event in Co Cavan, Louise O’Reilly TD said that in the context of Brexit, the issue of how health services will be affected is one that keeps coming back.

She said: “We are developing policy on a 32-county health service, which is available for all the citizens on this island.

“Disease does not recognise borders, our health service shouldn’t.

“We have been discussing the level of cooperation that exists currently and how we can deepen and develop that.

“We launched our 32-county women’s health policy document recently, and last week we also launched policy related to nursing and how we will tackle recruitment and retention crisis.

“We will not have a health service if we don’t have the personnel to deliver it.

“This government have failed time and time again, they have let our nurses down.

“We see Fianna Fail protect the government and they believe nurses are very well paid.

“We don’t believe that, pay has to be central to recruitment and retention issue.

“We also have to deal with role development, opportunities for promotion, time off for study, cover for maternity leave, all these issues have to be dealt with.

“In context of a 32-county health service, what we want to see is the development of a health service for people when they need it, based on need and not on ability to pay.”

The most recent report on recruitment and retention issues in the health sector found that in nursing and midwifery departments difficulties exist in meeting workforce requirements in specific areas.

The report also recommended that Specialist Qualification Allowance currently paid to nurses and midwives who acquire post-graduate qualifications should be increased by 20%.

Commenting on the release of the Report, the Minister for Finance and Public Expenditure & Reform, Paschal Donohoe said: “There are many viewpoints on the issues.

“There is a commitment between public service employers and staff representatives to meet within four weeks to discuss implementation of the Report.

“It is important that this process is adhered to and that space is afforded to reflect on the details and engage in that process.”

The announcement comes after Sinn Fein members gathered to discuss their “vision of a new Ireland – what that means in terms of Brexit, the economy and Irish Unity” at the party’s annual “think-in”.

Over the course of the two days, party representatives discussed the upcoming budget in the 26 counties and how the party’s alternative budget might “bring about shared prosperity, lift the burden from ordinary people and address the health and housing crises”.

Also addressed is the issue of powersharing in Northern Ireland, of which Sinn Fein’s Conor Murphy has accused the British government of adopting a policy of “drift” in order to protect their interests in the confidence and supply agreement with the DUP.

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