Ministers to be quizzed on energy prices and health reform

Ministers to be quizzed on energy prices and health reform

Ministers from the Northern Ireland Executive will be quizzed by pensioners from across the province today on topics including energy prices and health reform as part of a ‘Question Time’ style event in the Senate Chamber in Parliament Buildings.

The event, which will be hosted by the Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly William Hay MLA, will allow Members of the Northern Ireland Pensioners Parliament to question Ministers on the issues that have been raised as most important to the older population.

Michael Monaghan, Chair of the NI Pensioners Parliament, commented: “During the last three years of our Parliament, the number one concern for older people has been keeping warm in winter. Rising energy prices, high levels of fuel poverty and an increasing number of excess winter deaths are all very worrying trends, and we are eager to hear what the Minister of Enterprise, Trade and Investment has to say about how her department can help to reduce heating bills and protect the most vulnerable.”

Mr Monaghan continued: “It is clear that the planned reform of the health service here is leading to increased concerns amongst older people about their ability to access health and social care services in the future. This issue has seen a marked rise in concern over the past year with older people telling us they are worried about the impact these changes will have for them as they age.”

“Older people use the health and social care service more than any other age group, and therefore any reform of the service will logically have bigger consequences for older people. We look forward to hearing how the Minister for Health plans to ensure older people are treated with dignity and respect when receiving health and social care, and how resources will be allocated to assure high quality care for everyone.”

William Hay MLA, Speaker of the Northern Ireland Assembly, said: “I am delighted to welcome members of the Pensioners Parliament back to Parliament Buildings for a third year and to chair what has become a very worthwhile event on the local political calendar. Older people make up a large section of our population and it is crucial that we continue to give them every opportunity to have their voices heard and to highlight the issues that matter most to them. Our focus this year will be on the rising costs of energy and on the provision of local health care, which are both issues of high concern for older people. This event is an excellent example of democracy in action and I have no doubt that we can all look forward to an interesting and informative debate.”