Aontú deputy leader Councillor Anne McCloskey has hit out strongly against the Civil Service’s move to scupper the prospect of a medical school for Derry

Councillor McCloskey stated:

“I’m outraged, but not surprised at the recent announcement by the civil service that the graduate entry medical school to train general practitioners locally to serve this community will in all likelihood not happen.

“As a GP for over thirty years, I understand too well the problems in primary care provision in the north, and particularly west of the Bann. Workloads are spiralling and practices closing for want of staff and resources. “Emergency only” appointments and queues outside surgeries are the norm, and people struggling with chronic conditions or mental health problems are finding it increasingly difficult to access the care to which they are entitled.

“The funding has been allocated, the premises sourced, the administrative and teaching staff are ready to go, the course content approved by the General Medical Council,  and young people are ready and waiting to take up places. But the project needs a Minister of sign it off, and there is no executive in place to do so.

“Parties representing the north-west, the area with the highest scores on almost any index of socioeconomic deprivation you care to mention, are being paid to defend red lines around social issues on which there is little consensus, and on which they have sought no mandate.

“Civil servants like the permanent secretary of the Department of Health, Richard Pengelly, are bean counters, accountants who do not factor in the wider historical systematic discrimination against Derry, and the resultant economic and social meltdown here.

. “That’s why we elect politicians. They are tasked with delivering for their communities. But politicians from establishment parties are hellbent on putting culture wars over the material needs of real people. They are preoccupied with windowdressing and branding. That’s easier for them than working hard to improve the quailty of life and prospects of citizens.”