Belfast Telegraph

Health leaders call for restoration of Stormont to address ‘crisis’

Following Friday’s General Election, talks between the parties are set to resume on Monday.

The locked gates at Stormont in Belfast (Niall Carson/PA)
The locked gates at Stormont in Belfast (Niall Carson/PA)

By Aoife Moore, PA

Medical and nursing leaders have called for restoration of Stormont to address what they call “the deepening crisis in healthcare”.

Ahead of renewed political talks between the parties that are due to start on Monday, senior health leaders, representing doctors and nurses in Northern Ireland, have issued a statement outlining their serious concerns about the situation in the health and social care system.

The groups are calling on politicians to get the devolved institutions up and running again with immediate effect.

We urge political parties across Northern Ireland to put patients first; break the stalemate Statement

The British Medical Association, Royal College of Emergency Medicine NI, Royal College of Surgeons of England, Royal College of General Practitioners (NI), Royal College of Nursing, Royal College of Psychiatrists NI, the Royal College of Radiologists UK and the Northern Irish Board of the Royal College of Anaesthetists – which collectively represent thousands of medical and nursing professionals in Northern Ireland – said they were taking the “unusual” step of issuing a joint statement due to the severity of the situation.

“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.

“We need this now – patients cannot be forced to wait any longer for the healthcare they need. Crucially, we must have additional sustained investment in health to help address waiting lists and other escalating pressures, along with a full and frank debate on budgetary priorities across our public services.

“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.”

Stormont has been in cold storage for more than 1,000 days due to a stand-off between Sinn Fein and the DUP on issues such as Irish language legislation and a ban on same-sex marriage.

Following Friday’s General Election, talks between the parties are set to resume on Monday.

The Secretary of State for Northern Ireland said unless agreement is reached by January 13, fresh Assembly elections will be triggered.

PA

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