Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson Roy Beggs MLA has expressed his deep concern after it was revealed that the number of patients waiting more than 52 weeks for a first consultant-led outpatient appointment has now risen to over 80,000.
Roy Beggs said:
“There is a major and unprecedented crisis in our health service. Never before in the NHS’s 70 year history have so many local people been waiting, and for such appalling lengths of time.
“It is shocking and outrageous that at the end of December 2017 there were 80,651 people waiting for over a year for their first appointment with a consultant. The figure in the same period the year before was just over 47,000. The size of the increase in just 12 months illustrates the frightening pace at which the problems are escalating.
“With every passing day the situation is getting worse. Tragically we are now long past the point of some patients coming to harm as a result of the delays.
“The fact that so many people and conditions are now being pacified with pain relief, rather than actually receiving treatment for the problem, is simply appalling. It wouldn’t be tolerated anywhere else in the United Kingdom, and it shouldn’t be tolerated here.
“Our health service urgently needs a period of intensive support, stability and longer-term planning. Yet an Irish Language Act has received more attention by DUP and Sinn Fein negotiators over the last fortnight, than the problems in our health service have received in the last 12 months.
“Michelle O’Neill, as a previous Health Minister, will know exactly the brutal reality of what happens when people are left lingering on a waiting list. Not only did she walk away just when patients and our health workers needed a Minister the most, but now thanks in part to her stubbornness, she is condemning even more people to pain, distress and physical harm.”