Surgical manifesto for the 2022 Stormont Assembly elections
Updated: 1pm Wednesday 27 April 2022.
The COVID-19 pandemic has had a major impact on the delivery of urgent and life-changing surgical services in Northern Ireland. There were pre-existing problems with equitable and timely access to surgery; however, the pandemic has exacerbated these challenges and increased the demand for capacity across the health and social care (HSC) system. It remains the unfortunate reality that Northern Ireland patients experience the worst elective waiting times anywhere in the UK.
It is encouraging to see that the Northern Ireland Executive agrees health reform is a top priority. A recurrent three year budget alongside increased investment, could help build for a better health service in the long term with appropriate financial planning rather than jumping from one yearly cycle to another. Local people also agree that health should be prioritised for funding. Northern Ireland’s waiting lists show 358,346 patients waiting for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment, and 116,199 people waiting for admission to hospital. The parallel goals of service recovery and service redesign in light of the pandemic will be challenging for all stakeholders involved. As surgeons, we are keen to play our part.
We cannot return to ‘business as usual’ in the next mandate (2022–27). We must explore different ways of working to ensure the optimum use of resources. Northern Ireland’s political leaders have a unique opportunity to address these issues and create a more resilient and sustainable health service. To help achieve this, we are calling on all Members of the Legislative Assembly (MLAs) to engage with medical leaders and the wider health profession on the issues highlighted in our manifesto.