Commenting, she said:
‘‘This news is a significant step forward. I am pleased the Minister of Health has listened to the views of professional bodies and has now committed to facilitating this extra layer of protection for both patients and staff against the cancellation of life-saving and life-changing surgery. The success of new ‘green’ sites will ultimately depend on having the necessary staff to sustain their day-to-day operation. This has been a constant thorn in the side of the public health response throughout the pandemic.
It is essential therefore that the Department of Health rights the wrongs of the previous Workforce Appeal, which saw irrational delays and a low rate of applicants being appointed. Those coming forward with the necessary skills and expertise, particularly if they’ve only recently retired or left the health service, should not have to jump through endless hurdles before taking up post. I will be pressing the Minister for a common-sense approach to this process. Patients in all parts of our Province - some of whom have already had their surgery cancelled previously - must see the benefits as soon as possible.
We need to exhaust all routes to increasing capacity in our hospitals in the coming weeks. The request for extra military assistance to meet pressures on our wards is fully justified and it is important that the Government respond constructively to this request. The path to normality for our health service is also linked to the roll-out of the vaccination programme. The jab reduces the chances of you becoming seriously ill with Covid-19, being admitted to hospital, or taking an ICU bed from someone else. I would encourage anyone who has not yet received their vaccine to come forward.’’