Covid has highlighted inequalities, says Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer

Investitures at Windsor Castle

The coronavirus pandemic has exposed “huge health inequalities” that need to be addressed, Northern Ireland’s chief medical officer has said.

Professor Sir Michael McBride said he spoke to the Princess Royal about her work over the past few years as he received his knighthood at Windsor Castle on Tuesday.

Sir Michael told the PA news agency he was “very honoured” to receive him, saying it was an acknowledgment of the support from his family and colleagues.

He said: ‘I think it’s really important for the health teams to be recognised, we have all given so much over the last few years, our lives and our livelihoods.

“It is important that we take every opportunity to recognize the contribution, the commitment, the dedication.

Investitures at Windsor Castle
Professor Sir Michael McBride is knighted by the Princess Royal (Jonathan Brady/PA)

“I hope that those I have worked with, those I have had the privilege of working with, will recognize this award, and the fact that I receive it is recognition of their contribution, of their support.”

Sir Michael went on to warn there was ‘time left’ to live with coronavirus, urging people to continue ‘caring about each other’.

He added: “In addition to dealing with Covid, we also have to deal with the consequences of Covid.

“And there is no doubt that mental health has suffered, significant community, significant backlogs in terms of NHS waiting times, delays of people and access to care.

“These are real challenges and what Covid has also done is shine a light on the huge health inequalities we have in society, and we need to do more to address that.

“Those who have suffered the most during the pandemic are those who have suffered the least.

“It’s really important that we take this opportunity to double down on these public health priorities and make the nation’s health our priority, reduce health inequities and start rebuilding our health service. “