Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said it is important we use the anniversary of the creation of the NHS to show it needs reform.
The health service will celebrate its 70th birthday tomorrow (Thursday). Ms Bradshaw said a number of issues meant reforms were necessary to ensure it survived for another 70 years.
“The NHS is a national treasure because of those who work in it – their work under astonishing pressure is phenomenal. However, while a universal service offering high-quality healthcare to all is a principle to which many people are committed, it is no longer adhered to by our current system. It needs restored.
“Since 2010, health spending in Northern Ireland has risen considerably more slowly than in England. Extra money for health reforms directly from the UK Government is welcome but does little to address the gap in annual expenditure in the longer term.
“The budget is not the only issue – the system is seriously flawed, with too much emphasis given to structures and too little to systems, so best modern practice is not kept up with. Access to the system is long and complicated, too often involving waits lasting years.
“To restore the high quality service promised to all 70 years ago, we need to reform how health services are accessed, for example reducing waiting lists by putting fewer people on them in the first place and doing more to promote prevention and general well-being, by investing in physical activity in schools.
“We need to have the courage to value those who work in the NHS more by taking the decisions needed to restore the universal service we were promised in 1948. If we reform it now, we can ensure the NHS is something everyone will still be able to rely on in 70 years.”