17 January 2002 Edition

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Free nursing care welcomed

Sinn Féin Health spokesperson, West Belfast Asembly member Sue Ramsey, has welcomed the announcement that Minister for Health Bairbre de Brún intends to introduce free nursing care for elderly residents of nursing homes in October.

Ramsey said: "This is a very important announcement and it will benefit almost 2,000 elderly people. The current situation has been both unfair and the cause of stress and hardship.

"It is welcome that the Executive has supported the Minister in this move by ensuring that she has the resources to move forward with this. However, Sinn Féin would also like to see the introduction of free personal care and perhaps of greater importance, the introduction of free residential care, with the ending of means testing.

"The difficulty, as with the implementation of the many of changes required within the sphere of health and social services is the lack of finance. The initial announcement that the provision of free nursing care would be postponed because of financial constraints was a matter of great concern so I want to thank Bairbre de Brún for ensuring that we are now in a position to make progress on this issue."

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