SDLP Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath hosted a roundtable with health organisations at Stormont on Monday.
Mr McGrath is engaging with health organisations, the community and voluntary sector and political parties in the South to look at how we can save our health service.
Among the groups in attendance on Monday were the British Medical Association, Royal College of Nursing, British Dental Association and the Patient Client Council.
South Down MLA Mr McGrath said:
“In the absence of a Minister at Stormont I felt it was very important to bring a wide variety of health organisations together to discuss the challenges they are facing and what can be done to safeguard our health service in both the short and long-term. I don’t think any of us doubts the scale of the task ahead of us to save services, but doing nothing while we wait for the institutions to come back is no longer an option.
“If we are to prevent the total collapse of our health service then we need to accept that transformation is inevitable. Alongside that we must ensure that no part of the North is left behind and that every community can access the healthcare they need in a safe and timely manner. It was extremely useful to hear the views from the wide variety of organisations represented on the form health transformation should take, and what we need to do to deliver that. The voices of experts will be key as we work to change our health service for the better.
“Health organisations were clear that key to any progress will be the return of an Executive and Assembly to implement the changes necessary. The SDLP Opposition is determined to play an important role as a constructive voice in holding the Executive to account and ensuring that we don’t repeat the mistakes of the last few years.
"Today’s event marked the start of a period of intense engagement we will undertake to prepare us for the role of Opposition and I will be meeting with community and voluntary groups and political parties in the South over the coming weeks and months as we identify our priorities and how we can work to build a health service that delivers for people in the North.”