16/12/2019

Medical Leaders Demand End To Political Deadlock

Senior health leaders in Northern Ireland have demanded that politicians restore local government at Stormont.

The British Medical Association joined with seven royal medical colleges representing doctors and nurses in Northern Ireland to issue an unusual joint statement urging the restoration of power sharing.

It comes as the region's five largest political parties met with Secretary of State Julian Smith for a fresh round of negotiations. The organisations said the "severity" of the healthcare crisis has prompted them to issue the joint plea.

"We are all constituent parts of the one health care system and we need to put patients back at the heart of it. We need decisive action and political leadership to end the current gridlock," the collective statement reads.

"Problems in our health care system have been building for many years. Despite successive reports recommending major change or face collapse, the situation has not changed for the better quickly enough. To reform our health service we need political leadership and sustainable long-term planning with decisions being made by locally elected politicians operating from Stormont.
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"We need this now – patients cannot be forced to wait any longer for the healthcare they need."

Medical chiefs are demanding sustained investment in health to address waiting lists and other escalating pressures, along with a full and frank debate on budgetary priorities across public services.

The statement continued: "Events over recent weeks have highlighted just how precarious the situation is across our health system. Staff throughout the service are working above and beyond on a regular basis to ensure patients are being treated and cared for safely and appropriately but they feel they are at breaking point.

"Political inactivity over the last three years has contributed to this crisis. Although it is not the sole cause, the lack of an accountable health minister has resulted in decisions being deferred, blame passed around and sustainable transformation put on the back foot.

"As organisations representing the medical and nursing community here in Northern Ireland we see the reality of this fractured system every day and watch patients suffer. As a society we must do better.

"We urge political parties across Northern Ireland to put patients first; break the stalemate, restore our government and transform our health service without further delay."



(JG/CM)

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