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Making public scapegoats for A&E crisis pathetic

The Assembly political parties and Health and Social Care Board are in overdrive about who to blame for the current crisis in emergency and acute care. A crisis that has resulted in an unprecedented cancellation of non-elective surgeries in all of Northern Ireland's five health trusts. It is becoming clear the scapegoats the Assembly has chosen are the patients attending A&E units across Northern Ireland.

One thing the political parties definitely want to do is deflect from the true cause - the wholesale implementation of savage cuts imposed as part of the Executive's austerity agenda.

Incredibly, representatives for the Health and Social Care Board and some MLAs have blamed the crisis on people attending A&E for illnesses such as sore throats, coughs and colds. This is complete nonsense. Anybody who has any experience of emergency care knows that you are quickly assessed, appropriately treated, discharged or admitted. This does not explain why sick patients are waiting to be admitted to a ward for hours on a trolley in A&E. The answer is simple. Vulnerable patients are waiting for beds because the millions of pounds taken out of our healthcare has resulted in hundreds of beds gone, thousands of jobs lost, and cuts to acute and community services.

The General Practice Committee deputy chairman Dr Alan Stout made it very clear that cuts in general practice and community care were already having "huge implications" in terms of patient care and access to services.

He said that out-of-hours service was underfunded by £17m, while the GP service as a whole had been cut by £43m compared with other UK services. Dr Stout added that out-of-hours care "is already on its knees in Northern Ireland, and the work is becoming quite unsafe in some parts".

It is these systemic cuts in acute and community care that has resulted in a paralysis in the provision of care. Not people seeking medical help at A&E.

PAT LAWLOR

Socialist Party representative

Belfast Telegraph

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