Geraldine Rice sppech on healthcare

“When we talk about a decent health service in Northern Ireland, the fundamental starting point must be the needs of individual people.”

“Public policy should aim to help people enjoy good health, to work and live independently and have a rewarding social life. That goes for our overstretched nurses and doctors, as well as patients.”

“In terms of health, that requires us to see patients as people, and not just categorise them as clients of social services departments.”

“In particular Alliance has concerns about how older people are dealt with by the system. We recognise the complexities and changes required for incorporating a wide range of policies within the health services to provide for the needs of the individual. But much of the Government’s recent proposals have yet to take effect.”

“Over the last number of years I have heard countless complaints from people regarding the level of nursing care in hospitals. In fact many of those complaints have come from nurses themselves.”

“There are some issues that keep coming back to haunt our hospitals, such as bed blocking and a lack of proper nursing care.”

“Part of the problem here is a shortage of nurses and a lack of geriatric care, too few nursing home beds and inadequate community care packages.

While supporting the professionalisation of nursing, it is ironic that this has contributed to the crisis of insufficient numbers of nurses, especially at a basic nursing level.”

“While the short-term answer is to recruit nurses from abroad, the fact remains that many foreign nurses have qualified through valuable practical experience, which is not always accompanied by professional accreditation.”

“But they do a valuable job well, so it is inconsistent that higher requirements are asked for from local nurses.”

“The professionalisation of nursing in the United Kingdom has in some ways created a barrier to entry for those wishing to pursue nursing as a vocation. On the traditional nursing career path, individuals received practical ward experience, and could pursue higher ambitions through advanced training or university qualifications. This system provided us with highly-trained nurses, recognised throughout the world for their dedication and professional care of their patients.”

“The system now in place requires four A-levels to gain entry to university and is preventing many young people from entering the nursing profession.

Over 50 per cent of those taking the university course are leaving to go into other professions, leading to both a shortage of nurses and care on the wards. If it was not broken why change it?”

“Situations where people are left on trolleys for hours on end or overnight because no beds are available are undignified and unacceptable. This adds to the stress of ill patients in need of privacy and proper nursing care.”

“This is no reflection on the doctors and nurses in Accident and Emergency units who are providing the best care they can in difficult circumstances.

Delayed discharges mean overnight trolley waits. Many elderly people who no longer require an acute bed simply cannot be discharged, as there is nothing available to accommodate them in the community.”

“Some older people are lucky enough to have relatives who are prepared to look after them. But it is not uncommon for relatives to experience difficulty in being able to look after older people at home, or finding suitable and affordable nursing care.”

“So it was highly disappointing that the Assembly did not introduce free personal care for the elderly, as has been done in Scotland.”

“Alliance has pledged to do this by amending the Health and Personal Services Act 2002 to provide free personal care for the elderly and for others who need it.”

“An immediate review of discharge arrangements along with a comprehensive community care package would be a real step towards dealing with the problem of waiting lists.”

“The current method of short-term cash injections at critical times of the year has failed us badly. It’s time to think long-term.”


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