Northern Ireland

Brexit: Health service impact concerns Minister Michelle O'Neill

Michelle O'Neill is Northern Ireland's new Health Minister
Image caption Michelle O'Neill said she was concerned about the impact a "hard border" could have

Health Minister Michelle O'Neill has said she has "real fears" about the impact a UK exit from the EU could have on Northern Ireland's health service.

Although the region voted by 56% to 44% to stay in the EU in last week's poll, the UK as a whole voted to leave.

Ms O'Neill said she was worried over the impact a potential "hard border" between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland could have.

"I'm concerned about workforce issues, about a number of issues" she said.

"I'm going to work through all of those with my department officials over the next number of weeks."


There have been suggestions that border checks could be put in place for people travelling between Northern Ireland and the Republic, which is an EU member, after a UK withdrawal from the union.

Ms O'Neill said closer co-operation between the health services on both sides of the Irish border was vital.

"I think that it's important that we continue to work collectively on an all-island basis," she said.

"So, any type of hard barrier that could be created as a result of Brexit is unacceptable to me and something I'm going to fight very strongly against.

"I think the fact that we're a small island, we have to work back to back, two health services isn't good enough in my opinion.

"I want to be able to work more collaboratively with minister [Simon] Harris in the south and I'm obviously concerned what Brexit means for us in terms of our ability to do that."

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