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Health crisis must be priority in talks

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has warned the crisis in the health service must be the priority as talks resume to re-establish the devolved institutions.

The South Belfast MLA stated: “There can be no doubt there are huge challenges across all public services, but public alarm about the state of the health service is growing with good reason. We have already arrived at a situation where we have a two-tier service and some diagnostics and treatment are effectively unavailable. This runs completely counter to the principle of a universal health service available to all regardless of means.

“We are now seeing particularly grave problems in emergency and acute care, with the winter pressures still to hit. Overworked and underpaid staff are having to deal with immense challenges which are not of their making, but arise from the failure of politicians to take responsibility for urgent reform of, and sustained investment in, our health system.

“I welcome the initiative of the medical and nursing organisations to come out publicly and be clear about what the challenges are and why this is no false alarm. This precarious situation is putting patients seriously at risk and cannot go on.

“This is why we do not just need a restored Executive, but one which will be prepared to take the tough decisions necessary to return us to a health service which guarantees patient safely in emergency and acute care, and where people do not have to wait literally years for vital diagnoses, medication and treatment.”