North/South Alcohol Forum to look at potential of introducing minimum pricing

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A number of Co-operation and Working Together (CAWT) health projects being delivered in cross border areas are benefitting the people availing of the services.

From the Northern Ireland Executive

Wednesday, May 8, 2013

That was the message from Northern Ireland’s Health Minister Edwin Poots and Minister for Health, ROI, James Reilly during a visit to the Men’s Shed, Dundalk, today.

Both Ministers heard about a border region alcohol project aiming to reduce the effects of harmful drinking. Its early intervention service focuses on the provision of alcohol screening and intervention training to key practitioners in the mental health/family support area.

Health Minister Edwin Poots said: “Preventing and addressing the harm related to alcohol and drug misuse is a key priority for my department. The North/South Alcohol Forum was established to provide a mechanism to drive forward and co-ordinate work on these issues and in particular the potential to introduce minimum unit pricing for alcohol. I am keen to ensure both jurisdictions can get the greatest impact from this invaluable work.”

The Ministers also listened to participants of the CAWT Social Inclusion Project which is focused on reducing health inequalities for specific groups like vulnerable women and travellers.

The Minister continued saying: “Reducing health inequalities is a key priority for my department. We face many of the same health challenges. It is important that we share ideas and co-operate to address these for the mutual benefit of people on both sides of the border and to ensuring that both jurisdictions continue to benefit from such co-operation.”

Minister for Health, James Reilly said: “The work undertaken by CAWT is an example of what can be achieved through effective cross border cooperation. I am looking forward to working with Minister Poots in developing and delivering high quality care and treatment services to those who reside in the border regions. Our departments have been working together on a range of services including the provision of paediatric cardiac surgery on an all island basis. We’re also looking at the provision of cardiac services in the north west of the island. Such a provision will be hugely beneficial to patients on both sides of the border.”

Minister Reilly concluded: “We are anxious to progress further developments which will facilitate bi-directional cross border flows in acute services including ED care and planned elective procedures.”

Both Ministers went on to the Louth County Hospital to hear about the progress of the CAWT GUM clinics in cross border areas. The clinics, established with EU funding, have successfully treated over 5,600 people and trained almost 2,000 in sexual health promotion. They provide rapid access to specialist diagnostic, preventative and curative services to people with sexually transmitted infections.