6 January 2000 Edition

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De Brún pledges funds for flu crisis

Six-County Health minister Bairbre de Brún has vowed that any additional cash needed by health boards to cope with the worst flu epidemic to hit the north in years will be found.

De Brún said that she has instructed officials within the health service to find the money needed to deal with a crisis that has left hospitals across the north under pressure from an unprecedented demand for beds.

The Sinn Féin minister made it clear that the additional money to cope with ``the immediate crisis'' would be found even if that meant that some routine surgerical procedures were to be postponed.

The problems faced by hospitals across the Six Counties have arisen not just because of a greater demands for beds but also because of a shortage of staff members, struck down by illness.

In Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry, up to 17% of nursing staff were off work because of flu but in general hospital staff were managing to cope with the emergency.

De Brún went on to say that the health crisis caused by the present flu epidemic would have to be dealt with across the north's ten ministerial departments.

Even as the minister was moving to tackle the issue, however, Ian Paisley junior of the DUP was calling for her resignation as health minister, accusing de Brún of ``failing to do her job''.

Paisley's call, however, can be viewed as nothing more than a further indication that the ``No men'' of northern politics are still more interested in negative point scoring than in constructive political attempts to resolve the social and economic problems facing the people of the North.


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