Chief medical officer 'extremely concerned' NHS could be destabilised by flu and Covid surge

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Chief medical officer Michael McBride said everyone needed to step up over the coming weeks. Credit: PA Images

Northern Ireland's chief medical officer Sir Michael McBride has said he is "extremely concerned" the health service could be destabilised by a surge in flu or Covid cases this winter.

He said: "I am extremely concerned. The health service is extremely fragile and an extraordinary effort by staff has been required for many months up to now.

"We will all need to play our part in supporting our staff get through the coming weeks.

"We, the public, need to get our flu and Covid-19 vaccines, to protect ourselves, others and the health service from potential surges from these viruses.

"If you need urgent help, then our health service is here for you, but we do need to use it wisely; and I ask everyone to work with hospital teams to support the discharge of your relatives when their medical care is complete.

"I cannot recall a time when concerns across the health and social care system were at this level.

"This winter will be about providing the best care we can, minimising harm and supporting staff while yet again they take the strain.

"We also need sustained action for the longer-term including recurrent, significant investment and greater reconfiguration of services. Patients and staff will keep paying the price if this does not happen."

The health service has been under severe pressure. Regularly hospitals issues warnings of crowded emergency departments and calls for off-duty staff to report for work.

This week the health trusts combined to initiate emergency measures in a bid to ease pressure.

It comes as healthcare workers are taking part in industrial action over pay and conditions.

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