SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has said the concerns of doctors must be addressed or they will have a catastrophic impact on the health service.
He was speaking after a British Medical Association (BMA) survey showed 85% of doctors felt a proposed pay increase was too low, with 93% of junior doctors agreeing. Doctors also expressed concern about working conditions and the current state of the health service.
The BMA has warned that large numbers of junior doctors will consider leaving the North, while other doctors will retire earlier due to their concerns.
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:
“The concerns raised in this BMA survey must be addressed before the situation deteriorates further with a significant negative impact on our already broken health service and future plans for reform. Over the past few years our health staff have come under increasing demands for a myriad of factors including the coronavirus pandemic and the worsening conditions many operate under, the current situation cannot continue.
“If we want to change our health service for the better then we need to ensure that our staff feel safe, valued and fairly paid. The results of this survey are a stark warning, we already don’t have sufficient staff in place, we struggle to recruit adequate numbers, waiting lists are getting longer, people are struggling to get a GP appointment and if doctors continue to leave these shores and take early retirement things will only get worse.
“We cannot keep heaping pressure on our existing health staff and expecting them to cope. We rely on doctors to look after the health of everyone in the North and they cannot do this to the best of their ability if they feeling stressed, burnt out and with morale in the sector plummeting. This survey shows the impact the lack of functioning institutions at Stormont is having on our health service and we need to begin tackling these issues immediately to ensure we don’t end up in a situation with doctors taking strike action.”