Sinn Féin Say Health Minister 'Missing On Job'

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“Last February Mr McGimpsey assured the Assembly that there were still half a million swine flu jabs unused. What has the Minister and the Department been doing over the past year to ensure that these vaccines were used? It seems that once swine flu was out of the headlines any proactive course of action was simply shelved.” Ms Ruane also said that here has been no public advertising campaign similar to the one in late 2009 and early 2010 to warn people of the dangers of Swine Flu and the importance of consulting ith GP’s on how to access the vaccine. She said, “We are now seeing the result of this failure with significant extra pressures being put on a number of hospitals and a steep rise in trolley waits. This is unacceptable and the Minister needs to step forward and start giving answers to the many questions that are being asked about his management of this situation.” [caption id="attachment_18795" align="alignleft" width="500" caption="Swine flu in the Big House on the Hill?"][/caption] Health Minister McGimpsey has hit back against claims that the current pressures being faced by the Health and Social Care service are not being managed properly. The Minister said that from early December the Department, the Health Service, the Board and the Public Health Agency had been meeting on an almost daily basis. The purpose of the meetings were to ensure that the health service was ready to deal with any issues emerging from the cold weather. He said, “My Department, the Health and Social Care Board, the Public Health Agency and the Trusts have been in daily contact since mid-December to ensure an effective coordinated response to the pressures arising from the severe weather conditions. I have not, as has been suggested, been missing on the job. “Throughout the Christmas period I received regular updates on the current situation and have been on top of this situation at all times. I am deeply disappointed that an issue as serious as the delivery of health and social care has been turned into a political attack on me. “Despite all the significant pressures we are facing, the health service continues to manage this situation effectively because we have the necessary plans in place to cope.” Turning to the issue of GPs receiving information on vaccination the Minister said there is a formal and standard process every year to provide information to doctors. He said: “Every year, the Chief Medical Officer issues guidance to all GPs and other health professionals about the seasonal flu vaccination programme. These letters have advised on, for example, the ‘at-risk’ groups which should be vaccinated and how to manage cases of severe flu. “I also launched the annual seasonal flu programme in October and since then, there have been a series of press releases from my Department and the Public Health Agency on flu and personal hygiene. A significant amount of information on flu is also available on the Agency website at http://www.publichealth.hscni.net/ or http://www.fluawareni.info and on NI Direct at http://www.nidirect.gov.uk/flu. “Throughout the flu season, the Agency publishes a weekly flu bulletin on its website with information on flu and flu-like illnesses. In addition, in Northern Ireland, we will be running a number of newspaper advertisements next week to advise the public on preventing the spread of flu,” he said.]]>

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