BMA calls for urgent action to address collapsing health service in Northern Ireland

by BMA Northern Ireland media team

Press release from BMA Northern Ireland 

Location: Northern Ireland
Published: Wednesday 1 March 2023
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BMA has passed a motion today calling for urgent action on the collapsing health service in Northern Ireland. Speaking at the consultants conference being held today in London, BMA NI consultants committee chair Dr David Farren said, 

“While staff are doing their best to maintain services for patients it is beyond clear that the health service in Northern Ireland is collapsing. We can see from our waiting lists alone that patients are not getting the treatment they need within an acceptable timeframe. Our colleagues in other nations were shocked today when the extent of our issues were outlined.

 “The Department of Health needs to be honest with the public about the problems, problems, trying to fudge waiting lists by using different targets to the rest of the UK is misleading and unfair. Be honest about how bad things are and the reasons behind the waiting times. Our waiting lists are not measured in the same way as England and are less stringent and this also hides the true picture of what patients and doctors are facing. 

“We urgently need additional expertise brought in to advise the Department and Trusts on what they need to do stabilise the health service and bring it back from the brink of collapse, who would work alongside local medical leaders to modernise our health service. We don’t need more people telling us what is wrong, but we do need additional skills and expertise to deliver change. Part of the change that is needed is more transparency in decision making and allocation of funding. 

 “Trusts must also do more to prioritise the wellbeing of staff. Our surveys have told us that staff do not feel valued and are reporting high levels of burnout and stress. There needs to be appropriate occupational health services for staff across Northern Ireland and meaningful engagement with staff on what Trusts can do to help staff with their wellbeing. 

“BMA in Northern Ireland has repeatedly said that there needs to be urgent action to stabilise the health service and really tackle the underlying issues that are causing it to be in a never-ending cycle of collapse. Movement on the protocol this week is welcome, we now urgently need to get the Assembly and Executive back up and running.”

The motion was passed unanimously.

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