NHS pressures set to continue for months: GP

A Derry GP says that the ‘relentless pressure’ exerted on the NHS since the start of the Covid pandemic is set to continue for months to come.

Dr Tom Black.
Dr Tom Black.

Dr Tom Black’s warning coincides with news that NI still has the highest infection rate in the UK.

In addition, health chiefs believe it’s only a matter of time before the new Omicron variant of Covid-19 is confirmed in NI.

Dr Black, chair of the BMA in NI, says that, while it is still too early to be sure about the impact of Omicron, the initial information “does not look promising” with reports that it is a much more transmissible variant and could become the most dominant variant here.

“This means we still need to continue with getting tested, limiting our contacts, working from home, if possible, and getting vaccinations,” he said. “These small measures can help reduce the chance of getting Covid and passing it on.”

Turning to the wider picture, Dr Black says healthcare staff in NI are working in a system that is struggling to cope.

“I would ask that everyone who is using either general practice or hospital services remembers that the person you are dealing with will be doing their very best for you. Healthcare workers are as frustrated as anyone at the slowness of our health service, the lengthy waiting lists and the impact it has on patients. But, please, do not take these frustrations out on staff.

“Over the past 10 years, our workforce has not grown at a pace needed to meet the need for care. Recent reports of staff leaving because the job has become too pressured and unrelenting have exacerbated the problem and we run the risk of more staff leaving or retiring early due to pressure.”