Fearghal McKinney protestSDLP Health Spokesperson Fearghal McKinney has responded to an announcement made by the Health Minister where he announced a shakeup in the management of the Health Service.

Under Minister Simon Hamiton’s shakeup, he is to shut down the health and social care board which employs 470 people and has an annual budget of £27 million.

Mr McKinney said: “I welcome that the Health Minister has finally recognised the great disservice he did to the public during his party’s ‘In-Out’ policy and that he has at last acknowledged the DUPs stagnant approach that has damaged the Health Service over the past four years.

“Under the DUP the Health Board has swollen in numbers and now suffers from chronic inefficiencies.

“His plan today to get rid of the Board is an attempt to remedy the DUP’s own failings.

“Just as he won’t be handing over the decision-making to the proposed Panel, neither will politicians be handing over our ability to critique those decisions in a summit that he is proposing.

“It is the job of politicians and the Committee to scrutinise decisions before and after they are made and not act as only a rubber stamp.

“The Minister has pointed to the prospect of more money for health, he has not told us how much or where he is going to get it and the public, patients and politicians will want an answer to that upfront.

“The main concern is that this announcement is merely a smokescreen for reducing services in local hospitals without bolstering the community provision which is at the heart of the Transforming Your Care plan, a plan that was scarcely mentioned in the Ministers speech.

“The Minister is today trying to divert attention away from criticism of his recent absence and of the DUP’s stewardship of the Health system here over the last four years.

“I sincerely hope that this announcement does not equate to a political smokescreen.”

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