Eastwood calls for ‘immediate resumption’ of talks amid ‘shameful’ health crisis

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood.
SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood.

SDLP Leader Colum Eastwood MLA has urged both Governments and the leaders of all the main political parties in Northern Ireland to resume power-sharing talks immediately amid the crisis facing the Health Service.

The Foyle MLA said: “The crisis in our hospitals is shameful. In a society such as ours, patients should not have to wait for lengthy periods of time for urgent medical care. The situation is not acceptable, sustainable or safe.

“We cannot just ignore the crisis and hope it will go away. It will not.

“I am calling for the immediate resumption of power-sharing talks to restore government here.

“Patients and frontline health workers cannot wait for the DUP and Sinn Féin to start talking again. The crisis in our healthcare system surely must be a basis for dialogue.

“A representative from the Health and Social Care Board recently said that while work on health transformation was happening at a civil servant level, work could be progressed if we had a Health Minister.

“Political leadership is needed, no political party should be allowed to duck and dive that reality.”

Mr Eastwood said he was “disappointed but not surprised to read the usual bickering from the DUP and Sinn Féin as they attempt to push the blame over the crisis rather than reach solutions”.

“That offers patients, nurses and doctors no comfort,” he said.

“Whether others choose to accept it or not, health is a devolved matter and it demands a response from those of us gifted with political power. That means we must utilise the power we have here to alleviate the pressures on our hospitals and save lives.

“For our part, the SDLP believe a rights based society must too include the right to safe and timely healthcare.”