News | Health Service needs new, strong leadership

Health Service needs new, strong leadership

SDLP Deputy Leader and Health Spokesperson Fearghal McKinney MLA today held a major health conference with representatives of a wide range of stakeholders on the future of our ailing health service.

Speaking from the event in Belfast, Mr McKinney said that it was clear that the Health Service is in dire need of a new strategic vision and bold leadership to prioritise excellence in acute clinical services as well as resourcing community care.

He said:

 “For too long, the Health portfolio has been seen as a political poisoned chalice. That’s a message that I heard loud and clear from practitioners in a range of clinical and community medical settings. Our Health Service is plagued with difficulty because successive Ministers, and we’ve now had three in this mandate, have sought to manage it as a problem rather than meet the challenge of stimulating excellence.

“Health should be beyond politics. That’s why I have brought the author of the TYC plan John Compton together with health service staff, practitioners and trade union representatives. The issues that we explored today ranged from pressures on GP services, community pharmacies and interminable waiting to domiciliary and end of life care. I’m seeking to build a cross party consensus on a way forward for our health service that can command the support of those for whom it matters most – staff and patients.

“That begins with a fundamental shift in the way we address problems that manifest themselves in health service settings. The next Programme for Government must contain actionable commitments to address deprivation, unemployment and Health Service restructuring. We cannot build a healthy society through the health budget alone. And we certainly can’t fund a major restructuring process through monitoring rounds as the last three Ministers have done.

“The strength of our Health Service lies with its staff. They have continued to perform with excellence in spite of a failure of political leadership. I’m seeking to build a new consensus and forge the leadership the Health Service needs. I hope others will rally to that.”

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