Ulster Unionist Health Spokesperson, Roy Beggs MLA, has warned that patients are coming to harm as a result of the deteriorating situation in the local health service.
Roy Beggs said:
“Official targets exist for treatment across all patient types and specialities because it is medically accepted that the longer people are forced to wait for treatment, the greater harm they may ultimately come to. The number of people who are waiting far longer than is medically safe has now grown to an unprecedented and terrifying level. The tragic reality is we have now crossed the point beyond which people will be coming to avoidable harm as a result of the delays they are facing.
“It is outrageous that so many people are being forced to wait so long for treatment. Even after the maximum waiting time target was cruelly increased last year from 18 weeks to 52 weeks, there is no way the situation can be considered anything other than an unprecedented crisis. The fact that the number of people waiting longer than 52 weeks for their appointment with a consultant has more than doubled from 30,000 to 64,000 over the last twelve months, illustrates just how quickly the situation is deteriorating.
“Many of the £70m worth of cuts announced by the local Health and Social Care Trusts last week will directly exacerbate these already awful performance times.
“Sinn Fein continue to put politicking ahead of the welfare of local patients. They are clearly putting more value on an Irish Language Act than a safe local health service. Michelle O’Neill, as a former Health Minister, will know exactly the impact the current impasse is having on patients. The fact she and her party are continuing to do nothing to help resolve it tells us a lot about their lack of priority for the health of local patients. A Health minister needs to be in place now to take decisive action to protect patients.”