SDLP representatives meet Chief Nursing Officer amid health service concerns.
South Down MLA Sinead Bradley said: “This is one of the most serious challenges facing our health service. It is more than just normal winter pressures… the situation our doctors, nurses and other frontline staff are being forced into is a severe crisis.
“We raised our concerns about workforce planning, waiting times and service provision with the Chief Nursing Officer this morning. It’s clear to anyone who has visited a hospital that staff are working to the point of exhaustion in an effort to stretch themselves to maintain the current level of care. That is not a sustainable position.
“It’s welcome that further administrative support will soon be provided to nurses throughout the trust areas, freeing them to focus on patient care. But we need a strategic approach to transforming and resourcing our health service. That can only be provided by a local Health Minister.
Mid Ulster MLA Patsy McGlone added: “The only way to deal with the challenges facing patients, doctors and nurses is to advance health service transformation. That demands political will and political leadership, both of which appear to be in short supply.
“The last thing we need is direct rule. No one can have confidence that someone like Jeremy Hunt will improve this situation.
“This must be the basis for talks. All parties must be prepared to get around the table and resolve these challenges in the best interests of those we represent.”