BMA - Extra 1,000 medical consultants needed in Northern Ireland by 2033

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By Michael McHugh

An extra 1,000 medical consultants will be needed in Northern Ireland by 2033, the BMA has warned.

The doctors' organisation said a second school for students at Magee college in Londonderry must be created urgently.

It was one of the priorities contained in the New Decade, New Approach deal which restored power-sharing.

BMA Northern Ireland chairman Dr Tom Black said: "The need for more medical school places was recognised in the Gardiner Review in 2019.

"The same review also estimates that, due to people living longer and increased demand on the health service, there will need to be a 50% increase in the number of consultants over the next 15 years, meaning that an additional 1,000 more consultants will need to be in place in Northern Ireland by 2033.

"We need the medical school places to bring the students through."

Dr Black added that the medical school commitment must be urgently acted on to improve recruitment and retention, especially in general practice, and said waiting times for patients are unacceptably long.

"The situation has become particularly worse in the last year with regard to waiting times for patients being referred urgently from general practice to secondary care.

"We should be able to guarantee a service for all of these patients, where time is critical to the best outcomes being achieved.

"At the minute, we cannot always deliver this to all patients, and that is a bad situation for a health service in Northern Ireland to be in."

He said transformation of the health and social care service needs to happen as a priority.

In a BMA member survey, more than 70% of consultants described their morale as low or very low.

The chairman said: "The impact of pensions taxation on doctors is resulting in doctors in Northern Ireland reducing their clinical commitments.

"Northern Ireland remains the only part of the UK where the Government has not implemented any mitigations for this."

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