Ulster Unionist Health spokesperson, Roy Beggs MLA has slammed the Health Minister Edwin Poots after it emerged that in the last three months the proportion of people being treated in A&E within the four hour target has fallen by a further 5%, from an already low base.
“It is damning that the proportion of people being treated, discharged or admitted in Northern Ireland’s A&E units within four hours of their arrival has dropped by 5% from 76.8% to 71.7 between October and December 2012. When you compare this to NHS hospitals in Scotland, where the figures for September 2012 show that 95% of patients in A&E were seen within 4 hours, it is even more staggering. Given that ensuring treatment times are within four hours is a priority for our health service, the Minister must answer as to why this has taken a further dip from levels that would already not be acceptable in other parts of the UK.’
“Given the discomfort and risk that many patients face while waiting for their diagnosis, it is totally unacceptable that increasing amounts are being forced to wait more than four hours. The Ulster Unionist Party warned of the inadequate health budget and the adverse effects of closing A&E departments such as the one at the City Hospital. We are continuing to see the worrying results of such poorly judged decisions.’
“The people of Northern Ireland deserve a health service that is fit for purpose. It is clear from the figures released today by the Department of Health that Minister Poots has some explaining to do as to why essential treatment at our A&E’s clearly does not meet patients’ requirements.