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Billy Caldwell cannabis oil battle unites Northern Ireland politicians

UUP East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs By Staff Reporters June 18 2018 It is now long overdue for the UK to make a permanent and compassionate decision on the use of medicinal cannabis oil, the Ulster Unionists have said. Roy Beggs MLA is one of a number of politicians to support changing laws surrounding medical marijuana after a severely epileptic boy’s high-profile battle for treatment. Mr Beggs said: “It is frankly outrageous the Caldwells were forced to fly to Canada for a six-month supply of the prescribed medication, only for it to be later cruelly seized at the airport. “Charlotte Caldwell has not only been an enduring hero to her son Billy, but also to the thousands of other people across the UK campaigning for an evidence-based approach to the use of medicinal cannabis oil. “In 2018 it is simply not good enough that increasingly archaic legal restrictions were put … Continue reading

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Abortion in Northern Ireland: Where do the parties stand?

The law governing abortion in Northern Ireland dates back to the Offences Against the Person Act 1861 and the Criminal Justice Act (NI) 1945. They make abortion illegal in almost every circumstance. The 1967 Abortion Act in Britain, allowing for abortion up to 24 weeks, was never extended to the North. Access to abortion is only permitted if a woman’s life is at risk or if there is risk to her mental or physical health that is long term or permanent. Pregnancy involving rape, incest and fatal foetal abnormality (FFA) are not circumstances in which abortions can be performed legally. Thirteen abortions, within the current law, took place in Northern Ireland hospitals in 2016/17. However, it is estimated that every day two or three women from Northern Ireland travel to Britain for an abortion, with many others risking prosecution for self-administering abortifacients or abortion pills. Prior to Stormont collapsing in … Continue reading

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Authorities to monitor cause of Carrick rail bridge strikes

East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs has renewed his call for additional measures to prevent railway bridge strikes in Carrickfergus. It follows a response from the Department of Infrastructure to correspondence over recent incidents at the North Road structure, which has resulted in the closure of the Larne railway line and blocked one of the Carrick’s busiest roads. The Ulster Unionist Party representative had asked the department for a significant upgrade in warning signage at the location so that visitors driving high-sided vehicles are less likely to get caught out. The DfI advised the MLA the department and Translink had carried out an audit of the signage on the approaches bridge in September 2016 and found it to be in accordance with current advice and best practice. It added: “There are warning signs on the two approaches to the bridge which clearly indicate the presence of a low bridge stating the … Continue reading

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‘Lives at risk’ as more than 80000 people wait over a year for outpatient appointment

Warning: Margaret Carr By Gillian Halliday June 1 2018 Local outpatient waiting times are threatening to spiral out of control, politicians have claimed. A bulletin released yesterday revealed that over 80,000 people had waited more than a year for their first outpatient appointment with a consultant. The quarterly update covered the period up to March 31. There was a slight drop in the total number of patients (269,834) waiting, compared to the 271,553 on the list in December last year. But the Royal College of Surgeons said the number of people waiting more than a year equated to one in five patients. According to government targets, 50% of patients should wait no longer than nine weeks for their first outpatient appointment, and no one should have to wait more than a year. However, as of March 31, more than 30% of patients were in that position. SDLP MLA Mark H … Continue reading

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One in three waiting over year for first consultant appointment

Nearly a third of patients in Northern Ireland have to wait over a year for their first appointment with a consultant, new figures reveal. The number of people waiting more than 12 months for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment has risen dramatically – up from around 53,000 last year to around 83,000 this year. The figures, released by the Department of Health on Thursday morning, have been described as “scandalous” by the UUP. The figures show the number of people on waiting lists on March 31, and the length of time they have been waiting. In November 2016, the News Letter revealed that Stormont had quietly shifted the goalposts in how it measures the waiting times to make targets easier to reach. In 2014-15, the target was to keep no more than 20% of outpatients waiting nine weeks, and to have every single outpatient seen within 15. Now, the targets … Continue reading

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