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Regional approach will be required beyond the pandemic to catch up on vital procedures, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw has said the ‘regional approach’ being adopted to try to ensure as many procedures, including surgery, as possible can continue in Northern Ireland will need to be maintained beyond the end of the pandemic.

The South Belfast MLA was speaking after it was announced more than 4,200 ‘red flag’ cancer procedures had been cancelled here since the beginning of the pandemic.

“That so many vital procedures have been postponed and often in effect cancelled over the past year shows the scale of the pressure placed on the health service by transmission of the virus. It remains essential we adhere to the current restrictions to ensure pressure is not exacerbated and that number does not increase further,” she said.

“We should not forget this number includes cancer appointments only. Many other people with serious conditions requiring early intervention have also missed out. This issue is caused not just by transmission of the virus but also by the unwillingness of past Ministers to engage in meaningful reform and proper funding to improve efficiency reduce waiting lists.

“It is to be hoped the one silver lining in this will be the Bengoa reforms will now proceed more swiftly, as we will all see the benefit of them. However, we are still some years away from seeing the full positive impact. In the meantime, we will have to maintain a ‘regional approach’, combining the entirely of the health estate and including the independent sector, if we are not to lose control entirely and effectively leave people without vital treatment and diagnostics.”