Yet again the Royal Victoria A&E has been brought close to breaking point as long queues of patients desperate to receive treatment wait up to 23 hours. The risk to peoples health and the strain on staff put in an impossible situation is a predictable and completely avoidable crisis.
A DUP Ministerial reshuffle will see no change in direction. The new Health Minister Jim Wells has sat previously on the Health Committee where he has endorsed the cuts that have caused this disastrous situation.
While Sinn Fein has come out against “Tory cuts” the reality is that is gross hypocrisy. Sinn Fein representative Tom Hartley who sat on the Belfast Health & Social Care Trust Board voted through the closure of Belfast City A&E in September 2011. Along with cuts, the additional 48,000 patients a year seeking treatment between A&E’s at the Royal and Ulster hospitals as a result of the closure of the Belfast City A&E is a major factor in the current crisis.
More cuts not the answer
All the Stormont Executive parties are implicated in voting through significant public sector cuts. Any posturing or personnel change will not solve these problems. We need to reverse the cuts that have already been implemented to avoid putting more lives at risk.
Trade unions, local communities and ordinary people can force back the politicians. Their posturing on the issue shows how worried they are about a backlash. The trade union movement, with the support of local communities, must draw up plans now for a major demonstration in defence of our health service. Such a lead could mobilise thousands of people whose health is being put at risk as a result of the Stormont Executives cuts.