Belfast Telegraph

Doctors hail chance for 'radical and far-reaching' healthcare transformation

The Conservative-DUP deal could radically overhaul healthcare in Northern Ireland, doctors have said.

Family clinicians have threatened to leave the NHS because of funding concerns and workforce strain.

The UK Government has pledged £100 million a year over the next two years to fund "transformation" of the health service as part of a confidence and supply agreement with the Democratic Unionists.

The chairman of the British Medical Association's (BMA's) Northern Ireland Council, Dr John Woods, said: "This investment gives us a real opportunity to implement a radical and far-reaching transformation of health in Northern Ireland."

Hundreds of doctors have signed undated resignation letters over their concerns.

A rescue package, which would have increased training places, was agreed with Stormont's health minister but remains on hold as devolved powersharing has been suspended.

Dr Woods added: "Obviously we welcome additional funding for health here.

"However, it is now essential that this money is actually spent addressing the issues we face and not used as a quick-fix solution that does nothing to address the long-term sustainability of healthcare in Northern Ireland."

He said a rescue package was needed to tackle the "crisis" in general practice.

"We also need to take steps now to address the growing shortage of doctors across Northern Ireland in order to meet population needs.

"Alongside this, we need to see this money being used in a strategic way, not merely to address waiting lists.

"The money needs to be used to support genuine system and service transformation.

"This includes developing effective systems for elective and urgent care."

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