The Foyle MLA was speaking following correspondence from the Department of Health concerning suicide prevention in the North West.
Funds allocated under the transformation programme totals £380,000 for Belfast until 2020 whilst Derry has received just £30,000 – with local organisations funding the shortfall with an additional £100,000.
Suicide is a subject close to Mr Durkan’s heart after his beloved sister Gay took her own life in 2011.
Said Mr Durkan: “Firstly, the hard-fought efforts of local people must be praised in bringing this much needed crisis de-escalation service to the North West.
“The initiative will undoubtedly benefit many people here when they need it most.
“I spoke to Extern NI, the charity behind the project, who have assured me that the service is ‘finding its feet’ and is currently running well.
“Their dedication and hard work cannot be faulted; the staff and volunteers behind this project must be commended for the immeasurable support they have already given to people within this community.
“However, I am concerned that those West of the Bann are yet again being denied equitable funding opportunities.
“In details uncovered though an FOI request issued by my party colleague Steven Edwards, the Department of Health has funded the Belfast service equivalent £480k until 2020 but contributed only £30k for a twelve-month pilot scheme in Derry.
“In essence the department is paying virtually all of Belfast’s funding entitlement whilst only paying a fraction of the Derry service costs.
“The shortfall has been picked up instead by the DCSDC, WHSCT, Local Commissioning Group and Foyle Search and Rescue.
“In effect, it has fallen on the head of the council to lead and fund a project for one of the biggest health problems facing this city.
“Yet again Derry and the North West are being short changed. Local organisations already struggling on cash-strapped budgets are being asked to foot the bill for critical health services. They have been faced with no alternative- pay your way or do without.”
The Foyle MLA added: “This piecemeal approach to suicide prevention funding in the North West is disparaging.
“If we are to maintain an effective suicide prevention service- which families here have fervently fought for- we should be afforded the same support from the Department as our counterparts.
“I am meeting with the HSC board next Monday to discuss this unacceptable disparity. The North West deserve fair funding on this vital issue.”Tags: