Senior doctor calls for Assembly to return to fix the health service

Press release from BMA Northern Ireland 

Location: Northern Ireland
Published: Tuesday 4 July 2023
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A senior doctor will today [Tuesday 4 July] say that the Assembly must return as soon as possible to address the significant issues facing doctors and patients.

Speaking at the BMA Annual Representative Meeting in Liverpool, Dr Alan Stout, BMA NI council deputy chair will outline the long list of issues facing health and say, “We are hopeful that the Assembly will resume later this year. We need the Assembly to resume later this year – if not sooner. We need a minister there to take decisions.”

In his speech at the event Dr Stout will outline how the current political impasse is putting the health service under more pressure, “No functioning government for the past year, a health service under more pressure than it has ever been with practice contract hand-backs, huge emergency department waits, an inability to discharge patients once they are in hospital and waiting lists that now stretch many years.”

Dr Stout continues, “The stress on our workforce is huge, and not only are we being held responsible on the frontline, but also often accountable as well in the absence of any politicians. It is utterly disgraceful.

“To add to this, we have a close neighbour, a European neighbour, that is pushing very hard on transformed healthcare and is targeting significant increases in their doctor numbers with very much better terms and conditions than we have. Without a plan to retain doctors working in Northern Ireland there is a risk right now, and we already see it in many of our border services, but also a risk for the foreseeable future that we will lose more and more doctors to our nearest neighbour. 

“The lack of an executive has led to a catastrophic budget threatening all services in Northern Ireland. Every department is facing cuts of between 5 and 10%, every branch of practice will be affected. Alarmingly we have been told there is no money available for any pay award for any member of healthcare staff this year.

“This at the time of sky-high inflation and huge cost of living pressures. Even worse than that, any Barnett consequential of any increase in the rest of the UK will simply be used in Northern Ireland to cover off a previous budget overspend.

“This is devastating for our doctors. Members across Northern Ireland are pressing us to take more radical action. At our recent junior doctor events we got the message loud and clear that any incoming government has to fix pay, a view that is shared across the profession.

“We have written to the Secretary of State for Northern Ireland and our local party leaders to underscore this; just like their colleagues across the rest of the UK, doctors in Northern Ireland need and deserve a pay rise this year.”

Dr Stout also said there needed to be more opportunity to plan for any financial packaged allocated as part of the Assembly’s resumption, “If there is additional finance as part of that resumption, it needs to be allocated on a phased basis; we cannot have a situation again where a non-recurrent lump sum is given to be spent in year. This leads to ineffective and inefficient spending and does not solve anything.”




Notes to editors


Notes to editors

The BMA is a professional association and trade union representing and negotiating on behalf of all doctors in the UK. A leading voice advocating for outstanding health care and a healthy population. An association providing members with excellent individual services and support throughout their lives. 

The BMA’s Annual Representative Meeting is taking place in Liverpool. At the event doctors debate a wide range of issues affecting the medical profession. You can find the agenda here:

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