Ray Nethercott, Officer for Ireland says:
Paediatricians are wholly disheartened at the prospect of another period of political instability, worry and uncertainty in Northern Ireland.
We continue to see the lasting impact of the three-year hiatus and the inability to make key decisions and fully progress important policy such as the Paediatric Strategy 2016-26.
As parties in NI work to find a way to establish an Executive, and with a backdrop of the growing cost of living, recovery from a global pandemic and attempts to fully deliver the transformation agenda as per Delivering Together 2026, now more than ever, we need politicians to urgently focus on our children.
We implore political leadership in NI to ensure we have stability and continuity in our political institutions and that all parties in their discussions make child health and wellbeing their priority for the next Programme for Government.
Services for children are under increasingly significant pressure and too often we see the impact that waiting for treatment and assessment can have, physically and mentally. As paediatricians we know that development, both physical and emotional, goes through set stages, and missing opportunities for positive intervention has life-long consequences. Society can ill afford to play catch up on unaddressed and mis-timed health and development needs.
We must act now to enable our children to be happy, healthy and well, to build strong foundations for their future, with tools, resources and funding to develop a comprehensive, properly integrated child health service model.
Without an Executive and therefore no multi-year budget, the future looks bleak for children and young people.
We cannot expect long-term success in population health outcomes unless we prioritise how we deliver services for children and young people.
We have called on the new government to:
- Transform system and services
- Strengthen prevention and early Intervention
- Reduce child health inequalities and poverty
- Support the child health workforce
Children cannot wait. They should not be let down again.
Now we call on MLAs to urgently form an Executive.