Shannon Welcomes Move Towards A UK-Wide 24/7 Health System

Strangford MP Jim Shannon speaking after the announcement at Westminster has welcomed the news that the NHS could soon be a seven day a week service.

He said: “UK Minister of Health Jeremy Hunt MP has pressed the button to start the debate and there is now a compelling argument for medical consultations to be available over the weekend. Figures indicate that up to 6000 people lose their lives every year due to not having a seven day service.

[caption id="attachment_34246" align="alignleft" width="360"]The old Downe Hospital provided consultant led elective surgery, a coronary care unit and a full 24/7 A&E. Could some o fthese services be clawed back to the new Downe if Hunt's proposal is followed through reforming the NHS? The old Downe Hospital provided consultant-led elective surgery, a coronary care unit and a full 24/7 A&E. Could some of these services be clawed back to the new Downe hospital if Hunt’s proposal is followed through effectively reforming the NHS?[/caption]

“What is best for my constituents, and all in Northern Ireland, is a complete service which is available 24/7  that will bring transformation to the NHS in Northern Ireland.

“There will undoubtably be contractural barriers to overcome and discussions with the British Medical Association and other consulting bodies. We will need to energetically look towards how a seven day service can be delivered.

“My constituents in Strangford and indeed across Northern Ireland deserve the same service as UK mainland patients. In my questions to the UK Health Minister  at Westminster on Thursday, I asked that that he enter into discussions with Health Minister Simon Hamilton here in Northern Ireland so that all of UK and GB could and would benefit.

“I am also aware the Minister for Health in Northern Ireland Simon Hamilton is supportive of this idea pending additional funding from Westminster that would make this idea a reality,” said Mr Shannon.

Currently, if a doctor or consultant works outside an agreed time frame of Monday to Friday from 7am to 7pm, weekend work can be avoided. However, the BMA has already walked out of talks with the Department of Health and is resisting this change to a seven day week covering weekends. This contract was negotiated by Labour in 2003 and is proving a bone of contention. Health  Minister Hunt has said if there is no settlement by September to improve the flow of doctors to weekend work he will impose a new regime and new contracts.

Down News understands that Minister Hunt believes that being admitted to a hospital on a Sunday increases your chance of becoming a fatality compared to a Wednesday by up to 15% and he lays the blame for this at the feet of the consultants.

This confrontation will no doubt be a bitter pill for the consultants to swallow and will be a hard fought battle with possible legal outcomes and it could drag on for some time, possibly even beyond the life of this parliament.

But as Jim Shannon MP has suggested, something has to be done to improve the ailing NHS and the way forward will no doubt be challenging for the UK Health Minister faced with a possible revolt from the consultants.