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Wednesday, 30 August, 2000, 12:01 GMT 13:01 UK
Hospital warns of 'Third World' NHS
Hospital scene
Northern Ireland's NHS is below UK standards, say managers
The NHS in Northern Ireland is at serious risk of slipping towards Third World health standards unless extra money is made available, hospital chiefs have warned.

William McKee, chief executive of the Royal Group of Hospitals - the largest hospital in Northern Ireland - called on politicians to make health a key priority.

The hospital's annual report shows that it is 10m in the red, with serious pressure on emergency services and a severe shortage of nurses and other staff.

Mr McKee said standards of healthcare in Northern Ireland were below those of the rest of the UK.


Do we want to keep up to the standards of the English system, which is not great shakes?

William McKee, Royal Group of Hospitals, Belfast

He said money was urgently needed to bring the NHS up to acceptable standards.

"Do we want to keep up to the standards of the English system, which is not great shakes, rather than falling into something that, dare I say it, may become something of a Third World health care system," Mr McKee said.

The hospital's chairman Paul McWilliams called on members of the Northern Ireland Assembly to tackle the problems facing the NHS.

"I strongly urge the Assembly to look at funding in Northern Ireland so that staff in all hospitals can continue their excellent work without this added burden."

The hospital's staff used the annual report to make a plea to young male drivers in Northern Ireland to slow down.

They say a third of fatalities and serious injuries on the roads are caused by so-called boy racers.

Their statistics showed that there was a road accident in Northern Ireland every 40 minutes and a death every two and a half days.

A&E consultant Laurence Rocke said he found the death toll distressing.

"We see enough horror and trauma in the department. It distresses me. So much of it is avoidable.

"Accidents caused by speed on the roads account for a large proportion of our work and almost a third of fatalities are caused by so-called 'little boy racers'".

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25 Dec 99 | Northern Ireland
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