Northern Ireland news

First minister 'respectfully disagrees' with BMA assessment that new coronavirus regulations are 'too little, too late'

First Minister Arlene Foster. Picture by Kelvin Boyes/Press Eye/PA Wire

FIRST minister Arlene Foster last night said she "respectfully disagrees" with the assessment by the British Medical Association (BMA) that the new coronavirus regulations are "too little, too late".

It came after Tom Black, chair of the BMA in Northern Ireland, revealed that "following a virtual meeting with members the unanimous view is that restrictions weren't tough enough".

He said he feared that "hospitals could soon be overwhelmed".

"This is the first time the BMA has come out not in agreement with Stormont," he told BBC Radio Foyle.

"The big concern is that we are going to be overwhelmed, particularly on hospital wards and, hopefully not, but possibly in ICU."

Dr Black said restrictions should have been brought in weeks ago and have been more closely aligned with so-called level four restrictions in the Republic.

"I think we need to be much stricter than what Stormont is telling us," he said.

"There is a real pressure on the system here and there will be throughout Northern Ireland in terms of having capacity."

Speaking at the Stormont press conference, Mrs Foster responded to the criticism from the BMA chairman,

"I did hear the comments of Dr Tom Black from the BMA today. I respectfully disagree with him," she said.

"I say that because not only do I have to look at the health outcomes in these issues, but of course the economic outcomes, the societal outcomes, the education of our young people... and therefore I think that what we came forward with was an action plan which has been blended to try and deal with all of those issues, not for one minute taking away from the huge challenge that lies in front of us all in relation to Covid-19."

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Northern Ireland news