Surge framework welcome, but much still to be done, says Bradshaw

Alliance Health spokesperson Paula Bradshaw MLA has said the health and social care system’s surge framework is welcome, but cautioned much work is still to be done.

The South Belfast MLA was speaking after Health Minister Robin Swann announced the plan, which he said would combat the ‘daunting challenge’ facing the health service.

“I would join the Minister in emphasising each and every one of us is the first line of defence for our health service,” said Ms Bradshaw.

“It is up to us to avoid follow the health advice and download the Stop COVID app, following the guidance where appropriate. This is vital not just to stop the spread of the virus, but also to ensure capacity is maintained in the health and social care system to address other vital healthcare needs and the backlog of treatment and diagnosis.

“I would also recognise the need to delay the publication of Trusts’ rebuilding plans to prioritise the outworking of the current spike in cases. It is important, nevertheless, action is taken to ensure cancer services are resumed, care homes are protected, and day case and orthopaedic procedures are restarted.

“There remain significant concerns across the community, however, about access to vital support for long-term conditions, availability of vital rehabilitation and physiotherapy services, and the now delayed development of a mental health strategy and the services it would see established. There are also justified concerns about workforce pressures in some locations.

“It is essential as we address the next surge that we address it in its totality, including the serious impact on health and well-being from delayed treatment or closed services. We all have a role in enabling the system to do that.”