A draft plan aimed at reconfiguring the delivery of imaging services in Northern Ireland has been criticised for making no reference to the impact Brexit could have on cross-border health services or EEA (European Economic Area) doctors based in the country.
The 10-year strategic framework for the planning and delivery of safe, effective and sustainable imaging services for Northern Ireland was recently published for consultation in by the Department of Health for Northern Ireland.
The draft framework forms part of Health and Well-being 2026: Delivering Together, a 10-year transformation plan for health and social care in Northern Ireland unveiled in October 2016 by then health minister Michelle O’Neill.
The draft framework lays out 19 strategic recommendations for a reconfigured imaging service.
The recommendations include: plans to close unfilled vacancies in radiology; a specialty with one of largest workforce gaps in Northern Ireland; plans to train more radiologists, and; a commitment to invest in imaging services.
Although broadly supportive of the draft framework, BMA Northern Ireland criticised the document for not addressing the impact Brexit will have on imaging services in the country and for 'the absence of any reference to all‐island healthcare with regards to imaging'.
'This is remarkable as there are currently two major services being delivered on an all-island basis – paediatric cardiac services at Our Lady’s Children’s Hospital in Dublin and the cancer services at the radiotherapy centre in Altnagelvin [Area Hospital situated in Derry, Londonderry],' said BMA Northern Ireland council chair John D Woods.
'Surprisingly the impact of Brexit on these all-Island services is not been taken into account. Of particular concern is how Brexit will affect access to critical radio-isotopes and the substantial workforce implications. The latter could be particularly profound in radiology given current shortages of consultants. Greater certainty is needed on the rights of EEA doctors to work here and freedom of movement across the border.'
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