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Health services in Northern Ireland ‘at risk of collapse’

Cancer, social care and mental health lack long-term strategies, says committee

Health services in Northern Ireland risk deteriorating to the point of collapse without a long-term funding strategy to support transformation, a Westminster committee has warned.

The Northern Ireland Affairs Committee said services are struggling to meet the needs of an ageing population with chronic, complex conditions and are lacking adequate financial support or strategic guidance.

It said key services such as cancer, social care and mental health lack comprehensive strategies to guide their future direction and that the Department of Health must do more to demonstrate its commitment to developing long-term strategies for these services.

The committee added that the Department of Health must also take immediate action to tackle acute issues facing the health service including cancer waiting times, shortages in social care staffing and inadequate mental health funding.

Simon Hoare MP, chair of the Northern Ireland Affairs Committee, argued that Northern Ireland’s health service is falling behind the rest of the UK.

“An approach to funding that simply keeps things ticking over, and an absence of over-arching strategy in key areas, has left services at breaking point and this situation must end as soon as possible,” he said. “Health services need the funding and long-term security necessary to allow them to transform and innovate, to truly address the short and long term pressures they will face.”