2017 health review: Cuts and a ‘collapsing‘ care system

Adult social care, vaginal mesh implants and phantom health cuts – it takes all sorts to make it into an end of year health review.

Towards the end of 2017, adult social care was making headlines.

From patients experiencing , to those who deliver them comparing themselves to “work horses,” we heard about a system that is overstretched and that, according to some, is at breaking point.

The issue was explored in a series of reports by News NI.


A number of questions were asked, including just how much the social care sector is valued, how much workers are paid and if their employment rights are being upheld.

A which explored social care was published.

One of its findings was that the system is “collapsing in slow motion”.

The report also called for a fundamental change in the way Northern Ireland delivers and funds social care.

Paying a living wage to care workers, introducing a new professional body, involving families and patients in care decisions – and even means testing care, were all among the recommendations.

A lack of nurses continues and in an unprecedented move, Northern Ireland‘s health regulator formally notified the Department of Health about a serious nursing shortage.

That followed a series of inspections which identified staffing levels as being a problem in almost every area, .

The Horizon West children‘s hospice service was opened in Enniskillen in 2012.

Nine paediatric nurses are required to operate the service.

The scandal around vaginal mesh implants in Northern Ireland broke after women told the after having the treatment.

There are claims of medical negligence and pleas for mesh to be banned.

Northern Ireland‘s abortion story moved to London where . An outcome is expected shortly.

A year on from the and little has been transformed. The public made their voices heard loud and clear during the pre-consultation on the reshaping of stroke services; a formal consultation begins in 2018.

The future of emergency departments is in the balance again, people power won over

Despite it receiving a tick on the Department of Health‘s list of jobs done, the Royal College of GP‘s would argue that each GP practice has yet to have a named district nurse and health visitor.

GPs remain under tremendous pressure, however, at the end of the year the Department of Health allocated almost £4m to help improve the service.

Also, an additional £7m is being targeted at soaring hospital waiting lists.

The latest official figures tell us that – and it seems more are turning to the private sector.

While the system is creaking, some people argue it is not all about throwing more money at the problem.

What is required more, perhaps, is leadership.

Other questions posed this year include – According to my sources, probably.

It was also a year of phantom health cuts – remember the sudden

The performance of local emergency departments continues to dominate.

Four of Northern Ireland‘s health trusts were

In a UK-wide exercise, the examined statistics dating back five years.

The Belfast, Northern, Western and Southern health trusts were named among the worst performers, alongside six English NHS trusts.

The ongoing political vacuum at Stormont and lack of transformation means this winter is very likely to be the most challenging yet in terms of NHS performance across the UK.

‘Ross the Boss‘

But ending on a more positive note, we met from his practice in Glenarm, County Antrim.

There was also nine-year-old cancer survivor Ross Patterson.

Known to the nurses as Ross the Boss – in his own inimitable style he rocked our world at s at the Royal Belfast Hospital for Sick Children.

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