The coronavirus pandemic requires more innovative ways in how the health and social care service operates if we are to clear the waiting list backlog, says Northern Ireland’s doctors’ leader.
Dr Tom Black, chair of BMA’s Northern Ireland Council, was speaking after the latest quarterly waiting lists stats showed a further rise in people waiting for elective care here. Northern Ireland currently has the longest waiting lists in the UK.
“We knew these latest waiting stats would be bad and, as the Minister states, they will be much worse for the next quarter as the full picture of what effect the COVID-19 response has had becomes clearer,” said Dr Black.
“A recent member survey of Northern Ireland doctors told us that over 60% said the situation was ‘worsening’ for non-covid patients, while 44% said their main concern at this time was the longer-term impact on patient clinical demand. This is why we must not return to the old traditional ways of working in both primary and secondary care if we want to have any chance of reducing these lists. The added challenge of social distancing guidelines means we are having to review everything we do right across the health service.
“Innovation will be key. Doctors have embraced new ways of working very quickly as part of the pandemic response. We need to make sure that as the first phase is brought under control that any additional work is planned agreed and resourced. Doctors need to be properly included in any reform of the health service that now must cope with treating COVID-19 patients, whilst resuming care put on hold for those with other health conditions.”
Notes to editors
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