Ulster Unionist Party under fire over claim 392,000 waiting on health treatment

The Ulster Unionist Party has come under fire for claiming almost 400,000 people are waiting for treatment in Northern Ireland.

In the Assembly on Tuesday, the party’s East Antrim MLA Roy Beggs said one in five people in Northern Ireland were currently on a waiting list for treatment.

The DUP branded the claim “irresponsible and at worst scaremongering” saying the matter was something which should not be used for political gain.

Mr Beggs again repeated his claim on Wednesday morning’s Stephen Nolan show.

When asked if he was “double counting” with the 392,000 figure – that there could be the possibility one person could feature multiple times on a waiting list – Mr Beggs denied that was the case: “That’s what it appears to be to me.

“We are utilising information that is publicly available. If the [health] minister would publish exactly how many individuals are involved, we’d be able to say exactly how many people there were.

“This is the best information that is available.”

Mr Beggs, his party’s health spokesman, was asked of the figure was true.

“The main thing to remember here,” he said, “is that the number has doubled over this last couple of years.

“I have no way of counting who is on two waiting lists – this is the best information that we have.”

Asked if he would admit it wasn’t true, Mr Beggs responded: “I don’t know.

“I am aware, the numbers on those waiting lists have doubled and I also know there are many people in my constituency that are having to wait too long.

Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs
Ulster Unionist MLA Roy Beggs



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