Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson, Roy Beggs MLA, has warned that the exceptional pressures facing local hospitals are likely to continue for some time.
Roy Beggs said:
“The tragic reality is that according to years of previous experience, winter for the local health service has hardly even begun. The next three months are always the most difficult and as a result virtually every local hospital is likely to continue to face exceptional demands.
“Tragically this crisis was entirely predictable and preventable. The strain of this year’s winter flu was long known to be much more virulent and unfortunately the local health service was already in a frighteningly precarious position as a result of the growing pressures over the last 2 or 3 years.
“Every year Northern Ireland faces these pressures with growing intensity and even though the coming of winter is entirely predictable, the demands on local hospitals are still regularly described as unexpected or unplanned. Until the shortfall between demand for services and the capacity of the local system to cope is resolved, we are continuing to condemn ourselves to a never ending cycle of hospital crises. That’s not good for patient care and it’s not fair on the staff who keep getting caught up in the middle of it.
“In the meantime I would urge anyone else requiring the flu vaccination to make an appointment to get it without delay.”