On behalf of hundreds of doctors in Northern Ireland, the three UK royal colleges of physicians have come together to call on assembly members to take action to secure a multi-year budget for health and social care.
Two months since the 2022 Northern Ireland Assembly election, the Royal College of Physicians, the Royal College of Physicians of Edinburgh and the Royal College of Physicians and Surgeons of Glasgow have come together to call on all political parties to work together to deliver a much-needed multi-year budget. This must be an immediate priority for assembly members.
Health and social care trusts will struggle to transform patient care and expand multidisciplinary team working without recurrent funding: the system needs certainty. In their recent joint publication, The time is now: an action plan for health and care in Northern Ireland, the three colleges called for a recurrent, multi-year budget with which it can achieve lasting change for the people of Northern Ireland.
The current stalemate risks slowing progress in meeting the recommendations of Systems, not structures – changing health and social care (Bengoa, 2016). Services must be delivered in the right place, at the right time, by the right people – whether that be locally or nationally. This could mean specialist centres for elective care which could help to reduce the burden on district general hospitals. But without a multi-year budget, the health service cannot carry out long-term plans to support NHS staff, transform healthcare or tackle health inequalities.
Sir Andrew Goddard, president of the Royal College of Physicians said
‘Clinicians are trying to cope with growing workforce shortages, the impact of poverty and the cost of living crisis on people’s health, and a huge rise in patient numbers at the front door of the hospital. It’s a perfect storm, and the political and financial uncertainty facing the NHS in Northern Ireland is not helping. Without a multi-year budget, the health service cannot carry out long-term plans to support NHS staff, transform healthcare or tackle health inequalities. To make real progress on improving patient care, we need political parties to work together to secure recurrent funding for public services. Only then can we start making the long-term change that Northern Ireland needs.’