Northern Ireland health and social care in crisis

26 July 2019

Political leaders in Northern Ireland are being held responsible for the worst waiting lists in the UK. 


A new report by The Nuffield Trust has blamed a lack of political leadership as the main reason for Northern Ireland’s failure to deliver needed health reform.

Researchers found that the health service is exceptionally slow compared to elsewhere in the UK, with patients being at least 48 times as likely to wait for care as one in Wales - the next worse performer.

Unite Regional Officer, Kevin McAdam, responded: ‘Once again we have evidence of how our lack of government due to protracted political failure is damaging our people’s health’. 
The report acknowledges that although the civil service is doing its best to provide leadership, the political vacuum in Northern Ireland is ‘exacerbating chronic problems’.

This is despite a report in October 2016 - the Bengoa review - which provided a blueprint to improve Northern Ireland's health service. It warned that ‘reducing waiting times to an acceptable level’ was necessary to maintain public confidence.

The 'Change or collapse' report by Nuffield Trust uses interviews with health service leaders in Northern Ireland as well as outside experts and clinicians.

It concludes the crisis in health and social care must be addressed through investment and NHS pay equalisation.

‘This report also highlights the obsessive nature to centralise NHS services’, explains Kevin. ‘Unite believes this is being done to enforce savings rather than focusing on eliminating waste, investing in existing resources and properly remunerating staff’.

Kevin continues: ‘Much of the current crisis could be avoided through progressive reform. There is widespread demotivation of staff rooted in the failure of the department to match the recent pay and conditions of colleagues across the rest of the UK’. 


Author: Nicole Bains


Image credit | iStock