Ms Bradley said,
“The booster roll-out is our strongest tool in our fight against the virus. The medical advice as set out by the Chief Scientific Advisor is clear, the COVID-19 booster would reduce hospitalisations by at least 15%. We want the vaccination programme operating at full capacity like the rest of the UK.
It is deeply concerning that Northern Ireland is the UK’s worst performing region, with only 22% of those eligible having received their booster.
In the Southern Trust 500 care packages are being waited on by patients who could be in their own home. This is replicated across Northern Ireland. In many cases, these patients, who are medically fit to be discharged, are in hospital beds because no package is in place.
These failures are now playing out in our Emergency Departments. Covid passports will be a long-time stopping queues at EDs. They are a distraction from the big decisions.
We continue to make clear that we will support the Health Minister in implementing reforms that will tackle the underlying issues in the health service and ensure healthcare staff are given the pay they rightly deserve.
Our healthcare workers are overstretched and overworked. In particular the domiciliary care staff are expected to do in 15 minutes what any reasonable person could only do in near double that time.
We need to see a comprehensive and holistic evidenced based plan from the Minister that will make a real and meaningful impact on improving the system, not untested or unassessed proposals which grab headlines, but make no substantial difference in tackling the difficulties they face.”