National Association for Patient Participation

NI Royal Colleges call for political action on healthcare reform

06 September 2017

With no Northern Ireland Assembly or Executive in place, the health and social care transformation that was promised , as part of the Bengoa Review and the previous Health Minister’s Delivering Together strategy, has been put on hold. As a result, we are sadly witnessing our healthcare system deteriorate with no budget or decision makers in place to address the challenges facing services, healthcare staff and ultimately patients.

RCGPNI has been meeting with political parties throughout the summer to make sure that healthcare transformation and general practice remain at the top of the list of health priorities – but despite the parties having a good understanding of the problems the political stalemate means that no progress has been made to tackle the major issues.  

At the end of August, the five Health and Social Care Trusts announced separate proposals to make £70million of savings before the end of March 2018. In reaction to this, eight medical Royal Colleges, including the Royal College of GPs Northern Ireland, came together to make a joint statement. The statement called for a planned and strategic approach to healthcare transformation, instead of the reactive cuts that are being planned. Media Coverage

Here is the full statement:
"As healthcare professionals, patients' health and wellbeing is our utmost priority. Healthcare reform has been delayed for too long and, as a result, our health and social care system is deteriorating and patient care is suffering.

"In the absence of strategic decision making and planned reform, reactive cuts will be made for the purpose of balancing the books rather than to ensure that the best possible services are being delivered to patients within our given resources.

"The medical Royal Colleges have a pivotal role in patient advocacy throughout the UK; as senior representatives of these Colleges, we are united in our call for urgent action to address the challenges facing the health service in Northern Ireland.

"The issues we are facing are numerous: sustained challenges in general practice; daily pressures in Emergency Departments; challenges in the management and provision of appropriate and dignified care for frail older people; some of the poorest child health outcomes in Western Europe; delays in patient flow in secondary care; some of the longest waiting times in the UK for a range of scheduled procedures and imaging tests; gaps in the physical health care of those with mental illness and intellectual disability; the workforce crises in medicine and resultant reliance on locum staff; nursing shortages, and many other challenges.

"The current situation is unsustainable. In order to improve services and deliver the necessary transformation which is in the best interest of patients, the health budget needs to be spent strategically. We urge politicians to reflect carefully on the current situation and to work together to save our health service.

"On behalf of medical professionals across Northern Ireland, we call on political leaders to hear our concerns and take urgent action to address them."

Public consultations have now been launched by each of the five HSC Trusts, asking members of the public and stakeholders to have their say on the savings proposals. RCGPNI is concerned that cuts to Trust services could lead to considerable negative implications for primary care and general practice, at a time when services are already at breaking point.

If you want to have your say, get involved! You can write to your local politicians and remind them why your local GP services are important to you.

Details of the Trust proposals can be found on the Trust website:

Belfast Trust –
Western Trust –
Northern Trust -
South Eastern Trust –
Southern Trust -


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