Councillor Derek Thomas will depart St Helena on Sunday, 10 June, to attend the Joint Ministerial Council (JMC) EN Meeting in London on Thursday, 14 June 2018.
The focus for St Helena at this meeting will be the impact Brexit has on the Overseas Territories (OTs). Of particular interest to Councillor Thomas will be the loss of European Development Funding and the arrangements Her Majesty’s Government (HMG) will have in place to replace and support this type of funding, freedom of movement into the European Union (EU) with British Passport Holders, job opportunities and the impact on exports into the EU such as fish and coffee.
Councillor Thomas will also attend the UKOTA Pre JMC meeting on Wednesday, 13 June. This meeting will discuss the JMC – EN agenda, proposed agenda items and format for the JMC in November, HMG’s relationship with the Overseas Territories, Environmental issues and the proposed Foreign Affairs Select Committees report into the Overseas Territories.
In addition to the JMC meeting, Councillor Thomas will also attend bilateral meetings with the Foreign & Commonwealth Office Minister Lord Ahmad, DFID Minister Lord Bates and Andrew Mitchell MP.
Councillor Thomas explains:
“The purpose of these meetings will be discuss the prospects for Capital Programme Funding going forward, limited budget provisions which do not allow for enabling development, challenges arising from Air Access including limited visitor numbers, which are impacting upon private sector businesses, and the fact that the Island is going through a really difficult period and we need further support from HMG.”
On his return journey to St Helena, Councillor Thomas will spend a week in Johannesburg accompanied by the Director of Health, Dr Akeem Ali, to visit the proposed hospital and accommodation arrangements to assess their medical facilities. This follows after the clinical recommendation that similar levels of medical treatment can be obtained in Johannesburg compared to Cape Town where there are additional costs of more than £800 per patient and logistical issues including an overnight stay in Johannesburg.
Councillor Thomas said:
“Medical care overseas supported and funded by SHG is crucial in ensuring that treatment not available on the Island can be obtained by as many people who need it as possible. The reality is that the available resources is never enough to cover all the needs out there. As a government, we work hard to ensure that the health of Saints and access to medical care is given utmost priority. With DFID funding, we support patients sent to South Africa for overseas treatment and this is at substantial cost. We want to ensure that the available budget covers as many people’s needs as possible, therefore, we work hard to get good outcomes at good cost. There are currently additional costs to sending people to Cape Town to receive medical care that can be avoided.
“I, along with members of the Public Health Committee and other Elected Members are keen to ensure safe and effective overseas care for all who need it, at the same time we do not want to incur additional costs that are avoidable so that we can support more people to receive care overseas when they need it.”
Councillor Thomas will return to the Island on Saturday, 23 June 2018.
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8 June 2018