Stormont impasse risks handing health to privatisation advocates like Hunt: Durkan

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Foyle MLA Mark. H. Durkan has warned a failure to resurrect power-sharing will hand control of the North’s health service to privatisation advocates like Jeremy Hunt, the English Health Secretary.

Speaking as the National Health Service enters its 70th year, Mr. Durkan said: “We need to take politics out of health – but we need politics to deliver for health. It’s our responsibility. It is shameful for anyone to believe that we can just sit out that responsibility and that patients can wait – because they cannot.

“Our health crisis will only be resolved if we take responsibility here over our local powers. It will not be resolved if we leave it to Tory Direct Rule. We cannot allow Jeremy Hunt and his cronies to take control.”

Mr. Durkan said handing control of the local health service would exacerbate existing pressures.

“Recently GPs in Northern Ireland called for politicians to do the job we were elected to do - with the Royal College of General Practitioners Northern Ireland calling for urgent action to address GP shortages to protect patient care and services.

“We have also seen figures revealing that one-third of cancer patients wait too long for treatment and that targets have not been met for an eighth consecutive year.

“While there are new efforts to recruit new nurses, these will take some time while staff are faced with daily pressures currently. We need to act now to address work force shortages – our hard working health staff cannot wait.

“The situation is not only alarming, it’s disgraceful.”