Northern Ireland news

Health unions warn of 'immense pressure' of 'one of the hardest periods we have ever faced'

Healthcare staff are facing "immense" pressure this winter period, it has been warned.
Paul Ainsworth

THE heads of the north's healthcare Royal Colleges and trade unions have sent a "message of solidarity" to members facing what they fear is the "toughest period on record".

A joint statement by groups including the Royal College of Nursing, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine, and British Medical Association, thanks staff working on the frontline over Christmas, while warning the pressure they will face is "immense".

"We are sending out a message of solidarity to our incredible colleagues that everything you are doing in the fight against the virus is valued and appreciated. We are 100 per cent behind you and support all of the hard work you have undertaken over the course of this pandemic that started over 20 months ago," they said.

"We know many of you will be working over Christmas and the new year, as we do every year, to make sure that we continue to deliver services to meet the needs of patients. For everyone that is working over the next few weeks, thank you. This is going to be one of the hardest periods we have ever faced. We know many of you are already exhausted and these next weeks will be a huge challenge."

The statement urges the public to respect staff and "recognise the difficult circumstances they are working under".

"Across society, there should a total acceptance that caring for our health care workforce is the absolute priority. We must treasure the staff we have today whilst making effective plans to build an appropriate and resilient workforce that meets the demand of the future," it added.

The statement came as the Department of Health revealed another Covid-linked death on Monday, and 2,418 new infections. There were 276 Covid inpatients in the north's hospitals yesterday, of which 34 were in intensive care units (ICU).

In the Republic, 4,799 new cases of the virus were recorded yesterday.

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