The Royal Colleges and the British Medical Association Northern Ireland have issued a joint statement urging elected representatives to put patients first and form an Executive immediately.

The Royal College of Nursing, the British Medical Association Northern Ireland, the Royal College of Surgeons of England, the Royal College of Emergency Medicine and the Royal College of GPs, representing thousands of doctors and nurses across Northern Ireland, said that their health service is on the verge of collapse and the situation could not be more serious.

The statement said that Northern Ireland has the longest waiting lists in the UK, emergency departments are overflowing, general practice is in crisis, and they have chronic workforce shortages, alongside burnt-out staff who are contemplating leaving the health service forever. 

The price of political failure is too severe

It added: “Following the Assembly election on 5 May, we are appealing to our newly elected representatives to put our health service first, form an Executive without delay and as a first step towards fixing our health service, agree a multiyear budget to allow leaders to plan and deliver services effectively.

"We know not having a Government stalls progress. The lack of political stability puts basic service delivery at risk and inhibits our ability to make progress on key transformation projects including addressing our waiting lists, tackle the crisis in emergency admissions and improving capacity in general practice. It also means we cannot fund our Elective Care, Mental Health and Cancer strategies. We cannot underestimate the huge impact this uncertainty has on the lives of patients.

"We urge all political parties to get back to the table, set aside their differences and work together to address the immediate healthcare needs of all our patients. The price of political failure is too severe and will be felt in the worsening health of our most vulnerable citizens.”