McGrath Very Concerned About Surgeons’ Warning

McGrath says Surgeons ‘SOS’ warning is deeply concerning for the NI NHS

SDLP Opposition Health Spokesperson Colin McGrath has said he is disturbed to hear that surgeons have issued an “SOS” to address the surgical waiting lists in NI.

The information came to light during a briefing from the Royal College of Surgeons at the Health Committee on Thursday.

South Down MLA Mr McGrath said: “To hear our surgical leaders issue an SOS emergency call about the state of the surgical lists and waiting times and the need to address them was very worrying.

“This will no doubt be having a massive impact on patients and further underlines the deepening crisis in all areas of our health service.

“These are the professionals that are facing the waiting list crisis on a daily basis.

Surgeons have issued a warning that there may be a crisis in the medical workforce as ageing surgeons retire and are not replaced amidst waiting lists growing longer.

“They have told us that if every theatre was operational for 24 hours a day, 7 days a week for 365 days it would take three years to clear the lists.

“That is a sobering thought and shows the scale of the challenge ahead of us to return our health service to a stable footing.

“Surgeons are clear that we need more elective care centres and access to theatres for staff.

“They have also issued a workforce warning with large numbers of the surgical cohort in the later stages of their careers and will retire in the coming decade.

“If we don’t recruit and retain the surgeons necessary then we will be unable to manage the scale of these waiting lists.”

It has come to light that in the next ten years four out of five consultants will be retiring over teh age of 55 herlading a crisis of huge propostions down the line in the local health service.

Colin McGrath added: “We must see action from the Health Minister and Department of Health in relation to waiting lists and this cannot come soon enough.

“People are already waiting too long.

“It is causing unfair pressures on our primary care sectors and patients and their families are suffering because our health service is unable to carry out many of its basic functions.”