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BMA chief urges politicians to broker deal as Stormont deadline looms

Dr John Woods, head of the BMA, has called on politicians to agree a deal as health crisis deepens
Seanín Graham

THE head of the biggest doctors' union in Northern Ireland has called for the urgent restoration of Stormont to tackle a "dysfunctional" health service.

Speaking at the annual British Medical Association (BMA) conference in Bournemouth, Dr John D Woods said the instability created by having three separate health ministers in three years was a major contributory factor to the current crisis.

With just 24 hours before the deadline for a deal on restoring power-sharing Executive, the BMA chief urged politicians to act as he warned services were on the brink of collapse.

Dr Woods singled out the crisis in GP services where he said there was no "rescue plan" that had led to practices closing and the withdrawal of some services.

"From June 2015, we have had three health ministers in post - roughly a new minister every year. This lack of continuity is partly responsible for the dysfunction we see in our health system," he warned.

"Last autumn Professor Bengoa published his analysis. It outlined clearly the problems we face. In his words we are standing on a burning platform, a system which has to change or it will collapse."

He added: “We cannot do any of this with stop-start decision making. We need our politicians to get back round the table now. To work together, and to work with us. To make sure we can all deliver the high quality health system we aspire to."

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