We cannot continue to fail patients: Derry GP

Hospitals across Northern Ireland continue to be under pressure, writes Dr Tom Black.

Dr Tom Black.
Dr Tom Black.

This pre-dated Covid but there is no doubt that the last two years have increased the problems we are facing.

There are simply not enough doctors in the system and many doctors are feeling burnt out, having worked through the pandemic.

Doctors who are approaching retirement are considering leaving early and younger doctors are also considering their future in medicine.

Almost every day we will see a hospital on social media saying their Emergency Department (ED) is under pressure and for patients to consider using other services before attending.

In reality, the whole hospital will be under pressure. ED is just the way into the hospital - they still need to find beds and care for patients who are being admitted and we, then, need to be able to provide appropriate care for people who are well enough to be discharged.

There have been numerous reviews and reports into the health service in Northern Ireland but, sadly, I would say that, for patients, very little has changed.

In fact, for most people, things have got worse. They are waiting longer to be seen and for treatment. We have to do better. We cannot continue to fail patients in this way.

Covid also remains a concern. We are still seeing number regularly in excess of 2,000 cases per day and that is even with the changes to testing - so, the actual number of cases is likely to be much higher.

I would urge people to continue to do what they can to reduce the spread of infection.

* Tom Black is a GP working in Derry. He is also chair of the British Medical Association (BMA) in NI.