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Act now on health reform in Northern Ireland demand doctors’ leaders

Medical royal colleges band together on behalf of patients

Caroline White

Friday, 25 August 2017

Medical royal colleges in Northern Ireland have banded together to demand urgent action on health and social care reform.

In a joint statement, issued yesterday, the heads of eight royal colleges, representing GPs, anaesthetists, paediatricians, surgeons, psychiatrists, pathologists and physicians, say that delays in health and social care transformation combined with budget cuts are having a huge impact on patients.

A strategic approach to healthcare transformation is now needed, say the signatories.

"As healthcare professionals, patients' health and wellbeing is our utmost priority. Healthcare reform has been delayed for too long and, as a result, our health and social care system is deteriorating and patient care is suffering.

"In the absence of strategic decision making and planned reform, reactive cuts will be made for the purpose of balancing the books rather than to ensure that the best possible services are being delivered to patients within our given resources.”

The joint statement adds that as the medical royal colleges have a pivotal role in patient advocacy throughout the UK, the senior representatives of these colleges are united behind the need to take urgent action to address the challenges facing the health service in Northern Ireland.

"The issues we are facing are numerous: sustained challenges in general practice; daily pressures in emergency departments; challenges in the management and provision of appropriate and dignified care for frail older people; some of the poorest child health outcomes in Western Europe; delays in patient flow in secondary care; some of the longest waiting times in the UK for a range of scheduled procedures and imaging tests; gaps in the physical health care of those with mental illness and intellectual disability; the workforce crises in medicine and resultant reliance on locum staff; nursing shortages, and many other challenges.

"The current situation is unsustainable. In order to improve services and deliver the necessary transformation which is in the best interest of patients, the health budget needs to be spent strategically. We urge politicians to reflect carefully on the current situation and to work together to save our health service.”

The statement ends: "On behalf of medical professionals across Northern Ireland, we call on political leaders to hear our concerns and take urgent action to address them."

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