Stalford - proper plan needed to help hospitals

DUP MLA Christopher Stalford has said the focus of Ministers should be on a proper plan which will have an impact on hospital pressures rather than distraction measures.

The South Belfast MLA said,

"Covid passports are not going to stop ambulances queuing outside EDs. We need a proper plan to do that. One that deals with root causes of why our hospital staff are under pressure. One that ensures medically fit to be discharged people can get a care package.

We have been told throughout the pandemic that the guiding principle for Ministers must be to follow the science. The Chief Scientific Advisor however, told the Executive that the booster roll-out would reduce hospitalisations by at least 15%, yet we are the worst performing region for the roll out in the U.K. 80% of those eligible for a booster vaccination are unable to get it and the Executive hasn't been presented with any plans to improve this.

Hundreds of people are currently in hospital beds across Northern Ireland simply because there is no care package available for them to be discharged. The Executive hasn't been presented with plans to deal with this or address the fact that pay and conditions for our care staff are utterly inadequate.

Instead Ministers were served up a distraction dish of 'Covid certification' to enter a coffee shop.

There has been no proper assessment of the impact this scheme will have on either Covid transmission or hospitalisation. It has also had no economic, equality or human rights assessment. Hastily cobbled together plans will see small coffee shops enforcing the same system as nightclubs or concert arenas. If that coffee shop then falls foul of the rules they will face the same penalty as a venue with door staff in place and perhaps hundreds or even thousands of people in attendance.

Unfortunately the distraction dish has worked to some degree. Disagreement in the Executive is more interesting than serious proposals to reduce pressure on our health service. Putting pressure on hospitality staff is easier than taking steps to reduce pressure on health service staff.

Perhaps eventually however we will hear from those Ministers who most loudly proclaimed their desire to follow the science will come forward and tell us exactly what health, economic and societal evidence they based their decision on."

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