The Ulster Unionist Party has said hospital waiting lists in Northern Ireland are set to grow if immediate actions are not implemented.
The most recent Department of Health figures revealed the growing backlog of patients waiting for outpatient appointments- with over three quarters of the 288,754 people waiting longer than nine weeks to be seen.
Roy Beggs MLA, the party’s spokesperson for health, said the situation will inevitably worsen as demand continues to exceed capacity.
He said: “It is a tragedy on an epic scale that with a population of only 1.8million people, almost 100,000 patients have been waiting for longer than a year to see a consultant. If the same proportion of the population were waiting that length of time in any other part of the British Isles it would be considered a national disgrace and yet in Northern Ireland it appears to be simply accepted.
“Instead of the problem getting better, it’s getting worse. None of the one-off allocations of funding or piecemeal efforts to address the problem are working. For proof of that – each of the Health and Social Care Trusts submitted Performance Improvement Trajectories detailing the expected delivery of core activity in 2018/19, with the majority of Trusts’ plans forecasting an improvement on the previous year’s position. Yet, I have now been informed that the forecast level of activity was simply not delivered in 2018/19 in most of the areas.”
The east Antrim MLA followed his comments with a demand for Direct Rule if the cross party talks fail to reach a satisfactory conclusion- with the immediate restoration of an Executive and a local minister- soon.
He added: “Someone, either here or at Westminster, ultimately needs to be placed in a position to take the urgent decisions and actions needed for the benefit of patients.”
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