Anne Marie Marley on the need to include public health commitments in the Northern Ireland Executive Programme for Government
"The RCN is calling on Northern Ireland’s political parties and Assembly election candidates to embrace a public health approach to health and social care by ensuring that measures to tackle health inequalities and promote early intervention are included in the Northern Ireland Executive’s Programme for Government for 2016-2021. This will ensure that the Executive is accountable and responsible for ensuring that these priorities are delivered.
"The DHSSPS has a statutory responsibility to promote an integrated system of health and social care that is designed to secure improvements in the physical and mental health of people in Northern Ireland, promote the prevention, diagnosis and treatment of illness, address health inequalities and improve the social well-being of the people of Northern Ireland.
"As a respiratory nurse consultant, however, I witness every day the impact of poverty and social deprivation on the health of the people of Northern Ireland. There is a pressing need to address issues such as smoking rates in areas of high social need, as well as to tackle the negative impact of deprivation on mental health and well-being, as evidenced by high rates of anxiety and depression, culminating in Northern Ireland’s higher rates of long-term conditions and suicide figures.
"Nurses are central to tackling the link between poverty and ill health through prevention, early intervention and health promotion. We need our politicians to support us by making sure that the public health agenda is right at the heart of government over the next five years."