Government urged to help carers
Government must do more to support carers, leading medics have said.
Dr Paul Darragh, chairman of the BMA's Northern Ireland Council, spoke out as the body launched its policy 'Supporting carers and young carers in Northern Ireland'.
He told the BMA's annual conference in Brighton that the public sector expected too much from those caring for loved ones.
"Support for carers must be increased as a matter of urgency," he said.
He told the conference there are around 185,000 people in Northern Ireland who provide help and support to frail or ill family and friends, saving huge sums of public money that would otherwise be deployed to do the same work.
Dr Darragh added: "Without doubt, carers make a significant and vital contribution to people's lives and to society in general through their unselfish, caring actions.
"The health service also benefits enormously, not least due to the billions of pounds saved due to the unpaid care these individuals give."
He said the BMA believed there is an excessive burden placed on carers and that there is a huge reliance on informal carers.
The group claimed this was a consequence of inadequate funding of services in the community, which will only get worse in the current financial climate.