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06 Jul 2022

Durkan calls for extension of Cross Border Healthcare scheme

Durkan calls for extension of Cross Border Healthcare scheme

Mark H Durkan: "The pandemic has laid bare the fragilities of our health system which was already in chaos following decades of underinvestment."

SDLP MLA for Foyle, Mark H Durkan, has called for the extension of the Cross Border Health Directive beyond the planned end date of June 30, 2022.

Following the closure of the EU Healthcare Directive as a direct consequence of Brexit two years ago, Mr Durkan campaigned for an alternative provision to ensure individuals could travel to access treatment.

Mr Durkan called for the cross-border service to be extended to help with the ever-growing demands being made upon the Health Service in the North.

He said: “After next month, people in the North won't be able to avail of this provision which allows them to travel to the south to access treatment.

“This replacement scheme was established following the closure of the EU Directive as a consequence of Brexit.

“It has been crucial for so many people here given spiralling health waiting lists and should not be time bound.

“The pandemic has laid bare the fragilities of our health system which was already in chaos following decades of underinvestment.

“I must stress that this avenue of healthcare delivery is not ideal and work must continue to rebuild capacity, particularly within elective surgery.

“The majority of applications to this cross border initiative fall under hip and knee replacements – of which there are thousands of patients currently waiting – therefore I would argue that an overhaul of orthopaedic care is also required.

“In the interim this cross border scheme must be extended to take pressure off existing services struggling to meet demand.

“I’ve written to the Health Minister urging him to consider extending this crucial provision.

“Focus must also be placed on securing a long term solution, one which takes a collaborative approach to cross border healthcare to tackle our dire elective surgery waiting lists and maximise resources.”

The Department for Health has been approached for comment.

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