MPs warned health service in Northern Ireland cannot continue to operate in 'crisis mode'

Leading medical professionals have warned MPs that Northern Ireland’s health system cannot continue to operate “in crisis mode”.

Members of the British Medical Association (BMA), the Royal College of Surgeons (RCS) and the Royal College of Nursing (RCN) gave evidence to the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Wednesday about health service pressures. 

It comes as the Department of Health battles budgetary and staffing pressures.

On Monday, the Department outlined that it is unable to offer a pay award for staff in Northern Ireland and is looking at measures to make £360m of savings in a bid to balance the books.

Meanwhile Health Trusts are under growing pressure to reduce the amount they spend on agency staff, after expenditure rose by 13% in a year - to over £320million. 

Speaking at a parliamentary committee on Wednesday, Dolores McCormick of the RCN said: “I wouldn’t be over dramatising it if I said it’s beyond crisis.

"We have fallen off the edge, from the front door of our hospitals, to the back, right through to community care," she added.

Prof Mark Taylor, Dolores McCormick and Dr Tom Black gave evidence at the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee on Wednesday Credit: House of Commons

Dr Tom Black of the BMA warned that “continuing to operate in crisis mode, which is the worst of all worlds, with high costs and poor patient outcomes, has already begun to take its toll on staff and patients.”

He added: “The lack of an Executive has a clear detrimental impact on the management of the budget and strategic planning within the Department of Health, with civil servants placed in unenviable situations where they are unable to make decisions necessary to improve services.”

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